An employer accused a new employee of dishonestly falsifying the salary he had earned at his previous employer. That previous salary amount had been used by the new employer to arrive at the new employee’s salary. Without giving the employee the opportunity to defend himself the employer threatened to fire the employee and to lodge a case with the police for fraud if the employee refused to sign a mutually agreed separation contract. The employee signed the agreement and left the employer’s employment. Does the employer’s conduct constitute constructive dismissal?
No – the employer has a clear right, if not a civic obligation, to report a crime such as the alleged fraudulent misrepresentation to the SAPS. It may be perceived as a “threat” to persuade the employee to sign the MSA – but it’s not unfair or unlawful if the accusation is legitimate. If it’s not, the threat could itself constitute a crime of intimidation.
In this case, the fact that the employee hastily signed the MSA in response to the threat is a telling sign that the threat was probably legitimate – and it reveals of a guilty frame of mind.