INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
2. The dispute concerns a worker who has been employed by the Company for the past seven years. She claims that she has been subjected to bullying and harassment in the workplace for a considerable time and has reported various incidents to different members of Management ,to no avail. The Company rejected the claim. On the 11th October, 2001 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 in Galway on the 7th November,2001.
3. 1. The claimant brought to different supervisors' attention details of three separate instances concerning her delivery mail bag, her bicycle and an obscene letter which was sent to her home address. The Company took no action.
2. The worker suffered severe distress as a result of these incidents and they had a detrimental effect on her, making her fearful. She felt that the Company failed in
its responsibilities in not dealing with the issues complained of and that local Management ignored her complaints.
4. 1. The Company is very anxious to make sure that a positive and safe working environment exists which is free from all forms of bullying and harassment.
The Company as per its policy and procedures (which require formal written allegations) will fully investigate the complaints on receipt of a formal written complaint.
2. The only incident concerning the claim, of which the Company is aware, took place in May, 2001 when the claimant handed to her supervisor an offensive
letter received at her home address. Following consultation with security personnel the Company informed the claimant that there was no evidence to show that a member of An Post was involved and that the matter was proper to the
Garda Siochana, to investigate.
3. The Company would like to be afforded the opportunity to formally investigate the claimant's allegations in line with its policy for dealing with such matters.
The claimant outlined a number of incidents that she had brought to the notice of her Supervisors. The Company representatives stated that they were only aware of one such incident, but were not in a position to refute her claims on the others.
In the absence of satisfactory rebuttal of the claimant's allegations, the Court accepts her case as presented.
Given that these incidents were known to members of Management, and by their nature form the basis of bullying and harassment, the Court is not satisfied that the Company acted in a responsible fashion in dealing with this case. Even at this stage the Company was, in the view of the Court, taking a rigid and unhelpful stance in trying to address the problem.
The Court is conscious of the difficulties facing a Company in dealing with allegations of this nature, particularly if they are made by one employee against another. The Court is also conscious that the Company has a formal Bullying and Harassment procedure. However, taking too formal an approach to these matters can often inhibit people coming forward, despite their distress.
Requesting the employee at this stage to go through the formal procedures, despite her having made a number of complaints to her superiors, would seem to indicate a lack of urgency and lack of appreciation of the effect on the individual of her treatment.
The Court, having considered the information before it, recommends that the Company pay the claimant £2000 (2539.48 Euro) as compensation in this case, and ensure that the workplace is safe, secure and free of bullying of any type.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.