INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
AMALGAMATED ENGINEERING AND ELECTRICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation CW452/96.
2. Graffiti was discovered on a gent's toilet door on 12th September, 1995 at the Company's premises in Blanchardstown. As no member of staff admitted responsibility an investigation was initiated which included engaging the services of a handwriting expert. Fifty seven samples of handwriting were examined and the expert concluded that a specific member of staff "on balance of probabilities, probably wrote the questioned handwriting on the toilet door". The worker concerned has consistently stated his innocence and has requested a written apology and a payment of compensation from the Company.
The dispute was the subject of a Rights Commissioner's investigation on the 7th and the 29th November, 1996. The Rights Commissioner found that no disciplinary action had been taken by the Company, he did not consider that compensation was merited as the worker had not suffered any loss and he did not consider that an apology was appropriate. The Rights Commissioner also found that any references to the incident should be deleted from the worker's personal file. His recommendation was as follows:-
"I recommend that the Union and (the worker) accept that the
"clearance" of his file settles this dispute."
(The worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation).
The Union appealed the Rights Commissioner's recommendation to the Labour Court on the 10th January, 1997 in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court heard the appeal on the 10th February, 1997.
3. 1. The worker concerned has been employed by the Company for nearly seven years and has had a totally clean record. He has always stated that he was not responsible for the graffiti.
2. Before any handwriting samples were analysed it was general knowledge throughout the factory that the worker was a suspect. His offer to undergo a writing test was not taken up by the Company.
3. The slur on the worker's character was particularly traumatic as it occurred shortly before his wedding. The Company should acknowledge that the worker was not in any way responsible for writing the graffiti, and an apology and an appropriate amount of compensation should be forthcoming.
4. 1. No disciplinary action was taken against the worker nor were any warnings issued to him. The Company did not wish to cause any embarrassment or long-term problems for the worker before his impending marriage. Staff who attended a meeting on the issue were requested not to discuss the matter outside of the meeting.
2. The Company checked the names of staff who worked the shift in question on the 12th September, 1995. The handwriting expert also analysed 57 samples of handwriting from employees' original application forms. On this basis the Company believes that the worker concerned is responsible for the graffiti. An apology is, therefore, unwarranted.
3. If the worker's name was circulated by unauthorised personnel on Company property it could be argued that the employees concerned should have been reprimanded. In recognition of this the Company is prepared to pay an amount of £500 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society or to another agreed charity.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties agrees with the Rights Commissioner's view that no disciplinary action has actually taken place.
In relation to the alleged conversations around the factory naming the claimant as the writer of the graffiti, the Court recommends that the Union accept the Company proposed statement, as given at the hearing, dated 29th November, 1996, as a means of putting this issue to rest.
The Court upholds the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation and rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th March, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.