INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. In May, 1996, the worker commenced employment with the pharmacy as a part-time counter assistant. On the 1st of November, 1996, following a dispute between the worker and her supervisor, the worker was dismissed. The employer states that she was dismissed on the grounds that she was unwilling to accept supervision, she engaged in unacceptable verbal and physical abuse of her supervisor and had caused disruption by ignoring customers and by shouting, when upstairs, at a level that was audible in the shop downstairs. (The supervisor had been employed a week before the worker and was, subsequently, promoted to the post of supervisor because she had considerable pharmacy experience. The worker had no pharmacy experience at the time of her appointment).
The worker claims that her supervisor had often acted in a domineering manner and that she, herself, had been responding to considerable provocation when she confronted her supervisor. She stated that following the argument, her employer had instructed her to apologise to her supervisor, but that only a short time later he dismissed her, without attempting to bring the parties together to resolve the matter.
The worker referred the dispute to the Labour Court, on the 16th of December, 1996, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court investigated the dispute, in Sligo, on the 7th of May, 1997.
3. 1. Whilst performing her duties, she was told by the supervisor, in a loud and domineering voice, to carry out the duties she was already engaged in. It is very difficult to show initiative under such strict supervision.
2. Following the argument, the employer instructed the worker to apologise to her supervisor. He indicated that there was a future in her job for her ( the worker), and he liked the way she performed her duties. Only 10 minutes later he dismissed her. He made no attempt to resolve the differences between the worker and her supervisor.
3. The worker sought a written explanation for her dismissal from the employer but this was not forthcoming.
4. The worker performed all her duties well, never refused to do anything asked of her and was honest and punctual. She accepted responsibility for the front counter in the shop when the supervisor was not present. While acknowledging that the supervisor had considerable experience in pharmacy, the problems arose from her domineering attitude and her continual instructions to the worker in relation to her duties she was automatically carrying out already.
4. 1. Following the appointment of the supervisor, the worker showed dissent and did not respond to her supervisor's guidance in the manner that was hoped for.
2. When interviewed about the incident, the worker admitted that she had lost control and might have used abusive and foul language. She was warned about her conduct. Following reflection on the matter, the gravity of the situation sank in. Having made every effort to have the worker accept her supervisor's direction, this was obviously not going to be possible. The latter had actually stated that the worker was "ungovernable".
3. The worker was dismissed because she was unwilling to accept supervision despite being advised and warned of the need to do so. She directed unacceptable verbal and physical abuse towards her supervisor. She also caused disruption by ignoring customers and by shouting at a level that was audible in the shop.
The employer indicated that he was very satisfied with the work performance of the claimant up to the time of termination of contract.
Having considered all aspects of this case, the Court is of the view that the case would be best dealt with by the employer providing a reference for the claimant reflecting the above.
The employer did indicate his willingness to do this in writing or by telephone, if requested.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th of June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.