INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SAEHAN MEDIA IRELAND LIMITED
(REPRESENTED BY MC CANN, FITZGERALD SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY DAMIEN TANSEY & COMPANY)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged bullying, harassment and intimidation.
2. The claimant was employed by the Company on the 1st of February, 1992, as head of security and reports directly to the Human Resources Manager who commenced employment with the Company on the 23rd of October, 1995. The claimant states that his working relationship with the Human Resources Manager was unremarkable until the 30th of August, 1996, when he was spoken to in an aggressive and sarcastic manner. He states that his working relationship with his superior began to deteriorate from that date and that comments and intimidatory remarks have been systematically levelled at him (details supplied to the Court). The Company contends that there was no intimidation, bullying or harassment of any kind practised against the claimant. In November, 1997, the claimant referred the dispute to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. The Court investigated the dispute on the 6th of March, 1998, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The Company's grievance procedure is inherently flawed as it makes no provision for cases where a problem concerns an employee's immediate superior. In such cases an alternative person should be nominated to deal with grievances.
2. Senior management knew, or ought to have known, that the worker concerned had a problem. He raised the issue on four separate occasions and sent three memoranda to senior management but received no reply. A full and frank discussion with senior management at which the worker could air his views would have been a very simple and straightforward way to deal with the problem.
3. The intimidation and harassment to which the worker was subjected has affected his health. He should be free to work in a non-confrontational and non-threatening environment. The worker should receive just and equitable compensation for the intimidation which he has suffered, in addition to the legal costs and medical costs which he has incurred.
4. 1. The Human Resources Manager was responsible for reviewing the claimant's performance and for completing his annual performance appraisal. He was also responsible for reducing the number of hours of weekend overtime which had previously been worked by security personnel. This may have contributed to the problem between the parties.
2. The individual incidents which the worker has complained of are vexatious and frivolous and do not constitute harassment. The Human Resources Manager either requested information from the claimant or in one instance attempted to be humorous. The claimant interpreted these enquiries or comments as harassment.
3. The Human Resources Manager did not submit the claimant to any form of abuse and at all times treated him in a courteous, professional and proper manner. No other person within the Company in any way acquiesced or condoned bullying, intimidation or harassment of the claimant.
On the evidence presented the Court does not regard the incidents complained of, either in themselves or cumulatively, as amounting to bullying as that term is generally understood.
It is clear, however, that the claimant was suffering from stress which he and his medical advisor considered to be work related. Details of what was considered to be the cause of this condition were brought to the attention of management through the appropriate procedure. The Company failed to respond adequately to these complaints.
Work related stress is recognised as a health and safety issue and employers have an obligation to deal with instances of its occurrence which are brought to their attention. Apart from this consideration, the complaints which the worker made in relation to his manager were matters appropriate to the Company grievance procedure which he invoked.
The Company's failure to respond within the terms of this procedure represents a serious omission on its part which may have exacerbated the worker's condition.
In the circumstances the Court recommends that the worker be paid compensation in the amount of £500 and that the Company should now deal sensitively with his complaints of work related stress without further delay.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th March, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.