INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUILDING CO-OPERATIVES
(REPRESENTED BY NORA MORRIS, JAMES A. CONNOLLY, & COMPANY, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MARGARET O'DOHERTY BL, INSTRUCTED BY MICHAEL MARTIN, SOLICITOR)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Bullying and wrongful dismissal.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company as an Estate Manager on the 1st September, 2003. His probationary period was for a period of six months following which he was made permanent on the 8th March, 2004. The Claimant was dismissed on the 27th August, 2004. He claimed that he was unfairly dismissed and sought to refer the issue to a Rights Commissioner for investigation .The Company objected to such a referral. On the 23rd March, 2005, the Claimant 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. The Court investigated the dispute at hearings which were held on the 2nd June, 2005 and 9th May, 2006.
3. 1. During the period of his employment the Claimant was subjected to bullying and harassment by a number of members of Management (details supplied to the Court). He sought to have his grievances addressed by Management but to no avail. The treatment led to the Claimant experiencing severe stress which resulted in his being on sick leave from 24th March, 2004, to 10th August, 2004.
2. The treatment of the Claimant was a breach of his contract of employment, the general common law duty of care and the terms of the Staff Employee Handbook. His treatment was also in breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989.
3. The Claimant's summary dismissal on the 27th August, 2004 was made without prior verbal or written warnings, without investigation and despite the fact that a medical certificate had been submitted to the Company. The dismissal occurred four days before the Claimant would have been in the employment for one year and prima facie entitled under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2001 to other terms of redress. The dismissal was also in breach of the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts, 1973 -2001.
4. The Claimant has experienced difficulty in obtaining gainful alternative employment as he has not been provided with a reference.
5. The Claimant was arbitrarily and unfairly dismissed. He is seeking appropriate redress.
4. 1. The Managers complained of tried to give the Claimant advice and direction. They were not aggressive loud or unreasonable in their tone and were trying to help the Claimant. They reject any allegations of bullying and harassment.
2. The Company attempted to address the Claimant's complaints through a series of local level meetings with the Managers and was under the impression that the Claimant's concerns in relation to his treatment had been satisfactorily addressed.
3. The Claimant did not initiate the Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure.
4. The Claimant was dismissed because he failed to comply with the terms of his contract of employment in relation to the submission of medical certificates.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions put before it. It is not satisfied that a cogent case of bullying has been established by the Claimant.
The Court notes, however, the lack of established grievance and disciplinary procedures, the lack of warnings and the timing of the dismissal and has come to the view that the claimant's dismissal was procedurally unsound. The Court, accordingly, awards the Claimant compensation of €5,000 in respect of his dismissal from the Company.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th July, 2006
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.