Mr. Yang (the “employee”) served as a manager at a pet grooming store (the “employer”). The employee was responsible for personnel management and store operations as well as hands-on caring and grooming of pets, when other employees were occupied. In August, the employer received several negative comments at the online platform where customers can leave feedback after receiving services. The employer considered that these negative comments were caused by the employee’s negligence of duty, which hurt the store’s reputation. On this basis, the employer unilaterally terminated the employee. The employee then filed a labour arbitration claim for wrongful termination. The labour arbitration commission heard the dispute and ruled in favour of the employee. The arbitral award was based on the following reasons: (1) it was still doubtful whether these online comments were written by real customers; (2) even if those negative comments were left by real customers, it was inappropriate for the employer to discipline the employee before investigating the relevant incidents; (3) the employer failed to prove the causal relationship between the employee’s negligence and the negative comments; and (4) negative comments are subjective expressions, which did not result in any direct loss to the employer.
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