INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal Against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation Ir20032/04/Gf
2. The case before the Court concerns an appeal by the worker of Rights Commissioners Recommendation Ir20032/04/GF. The dispute concerns a former employee of the ISPCA who alleges constructive dismissal following unfounded accusations made against him by his employer. The worker was employed as the Manager of the National Animal Centre, Longford until June 2004. The worker in question claimed that there were unfounded allegations made against him in relation to inappropriate images found on a computer in the offices of the ISPCA and although these allegations were unsubstantiated, the subsequent treatment of the worker by certain colleagues made it impossible for him to remain in his employment.
The Employer's position is that there were no allegations made against the worker at all, but that inappropriate images were claimed to have been seen on his computer, although there was no suggestion made that it was of his doing. The Employer also stated that it had offered the worker meetings to resolve all outstanding issues but that these had been refused. The worker subsequently left his employment of his own free will.
The matter was referred to a Right's Commissioner for investigation. The Right's Commissioner subsequently struck out the case due to the unexplained absence of the claimant at the hearing.
On the 20th March 2005, the worker appealed the decision of the Rights Commissioner in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 claiming that he had not received notification of the hearing as correspondence had not been forwarded to him from the ISPCA accommodation where he had previousy resided.
A Labour Court Hearing took place on 10th May, 2006
3. 1. There were allegations made against the worker in relation to inappropriate imagery found on a computer. These allegations were subsequently found to be unsubstantiated although the worker was unable to remain in employment following the incidents due to treatment received by certain colleagues.
2. No notification was received in relation to the Rights Commissioner's hearing, as the ISPCA failed to forward correspondence related to the case. If this correspondence had been received, the worker would have attended the Right's Commissioner's hearing.
4. 1. The matter before the Court concerns an appeal of the Right's Commissioner striking out the case due to the failure of the claimant to attend the hearing, not the details of other incidences that took place. The ISPCA maintain its position that the worker left the employment of his own free will.
2. Management had made ever effort to resolve all outstanding issues by offering to meet with the worker before he left the organisation. All efforts in this regard were refused by the worker.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions of the parties made in this case.
The Court notes the employer's assertations and oral confirmation to the Court
- that the claimant was never accused of anything and
- he left the employment of the ISPCA with a clear name.
The Court, however, is of the opinion that the case was inadequatley managed by the employer in that:-
- the claimant had no proper written contract of employment
- there was no proper written grievance and/or disciplinary procedures in place.
- the employer acted initially on the basis of hearsay
- some investigations were instigated without the knowledge or co-operation of the claimant
- the claimant was not given full information, nor was he given a chance to respond normally to any case against him. He was simply called to meetings to "discuss the matter".
- several members of management and the executive were involved and there was no consistency of approach
The Court accepts that the claimant felt humiliated and in a state of mind where he felt that he could not continue in employment.
The Court also accepts that the claimant was genuinely unaware of the Rights Commissioner's hearing taking place. His mail was sent to the accommodation address which went with his job, which he had had to leave upon his resignation.
The Court is, however, of the view that the claimant did little or nothing to mitigate the circumstances in which he found himself. He declined to attend meetings to discuss the matter and requested that the officer
s of the ISPCA should not communicate with him. He also failed to stay on and ensure that his name was cleared.
In all the circumstances outlined, the Court sets aside the decision of the Rights Commissioner and allows the appeal. The Court awards the claimant a severance payment of €6000 in compensation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th July 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.