INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DUBLIN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
(REPRESENTED BY ARTHUR COX, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Dispute concerning alleged harassment and intimidation.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who commenced employment in 1983 and is presently employed as a general operative at Cathal Brugha Street where her most recent location was in Kitchen 8. The worker claimed that she suffered harassment and intimidation at the hands of supervisory staff. On the 6th May, 1998 the worker referred a complaint to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held on the 3rd July, 1998.
3. 1. On reporting for work daily in Kitchen 8 the worker's two immediate supervisors continuously complained to her about the standard and quality of her work (details to the Court). The worker felt that she carried out her duties in a competent and efficient manner and could not see a reason for the supervisors' complaints.
2. Management proposed to transfer the worker from Kitchen 8 where she had worked for a number of years and was happy there. No reason was given to her for the proposed transfer to Kitchen 9. Normally a worker with seniority of service, such as the claimant, would not be transferred unless a specific request for transfer was made.
3. The worker has been subjected to harassment and intimidation for the past few years and has not received the same treatment as work colleagues. Despite a number of meetings with Management and both a conciliation conference and a Rights Commissioner's hearing, a satisfactory conclusion has not been reached.
4. Because of the unfair and vindictive treatment towards her, the worker has been on sick leave for a lengthy period with a stress related illness.
4. 1. It is essential for the Institute to have flexibility of staffing to meet the changing needs and demands and this often necessitates the movement of its general operatives. During the period of her employment the worker has been moved a number of times.
2. During her employment in Kitchen 8 the worker was spoken to on a number of occasions regarding the performance of her duties. Issues had arisen on matters of both her attendance and work performance. In April 1997 Management informed the worker that she was being moved from Kitchen 8 to Kitchen 9. On the day the worker was informed of the proposed move she went on sick leave and has been absent through illness since.
3. The worker's allocation to Kitchen 9 was not a disciplinary action. She was re-located there because the work was less onerous.
4. The worker has no grounds for her allegation of harassment and intimidation. Supervisory staff in the Institute were merely carrying out their managerial functions effectively.
5. At all times the worker was advised that if she had a complaint she should process it through procedures as per the Institute's Guidelines. The Institute outlined this to the worker by letter dated 11th February, 1998 (details to the Court).
6. The Institute has attended both a conciliation conference and a Rights Commissioner's hearing (even though internal grievance procedures had not been exhausted) in its efforts to resolve the issue. The Rights Commissioner found that the Institute had adhered to procedures, that harassment did not take place, and that when the worker is fit to resume duty she should do so in a post determined by the Institute. The Rights Commissioner recommended that the worker accepts the position outlined by the Institute in its letter of 11th February, 1998.
7. If the worker's claim were conceded the Institute would no longer be able to assign staff to various locations to meet demand. This would have serious implications for the performance of its functions.
It would appear that this problem arose as a result of the transfer of this employee from Kitchen 8 to Kitchen 9, a move that the Management saw as aiding her but never explained.
Having considered all the written and verbal presentations made by the parties, the Court recommends as follows:
(1) The claimant to be placed in a "Kitchen" post on her return to work.
(2) The normal arrangements that apply in relation to assignment of duties and location of
work to apply following her return.
(3) Her claim of harassment and intimidation should now be investigated within laid down procedures.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
22nd July, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.