INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
(REPRESENTED BY ARTHUR COX)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY JOHN HORGAN)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Hearing arising from LCR18344
2. The worker was employed in January 2000 as a Sales and Services Representative on a salary of €21,000 per annum. His case is as follows: on the 17th of November, 2004, a conversation between the worker and a colleague in Germany was listened into by a Team Leader (not his own). The Team Leader said that she was unhappy with a comment the worker had made about her and that she would initiate an investigation. The worker believed that he would be dismissed at the end of the investigation and offered to resign immediately. His resignation was accepted and he was paid for the next four weeks, his notice period.
The worker referred his case for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act to a Rights Commissioner who found that "listening into a phone conversation between two colleagues to be distasteful", but because the worker had resigned he could not find the case sustainable under the Unfair Dismissals legislation. At the Rights Commissioners hearing the Company offered to take the worker back into employment but he refused as he was at that time in full-time education.
The worker referred his case to the Labour Court on the 29th of December, 2005, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th of June, 2006.
3. 1. The worker has been treated unfairly. The Team Leader who listened in on what was a personal conversation was not the worker's own Team Leader. The comment he made was business related and did not warrant an investigation.
2. The worker believed that he had no alternative but to resign as he felt that, from previous similar circumstances and the climate in the Company, he would be dismissed. The Company should have asked the worker to think over his decision but instead it immediately accepted his resignation.
4. 1 The worker offered his resignation before any investigation took place. There is a grievance procedure in the Company which the worker was aware of but chose not to use.
2. The monitoring / supervision of telephone calls constitutes standard practice for training and quality control procedure. Employees are made aware of this when they join the Company.
3. The Company offered to take the worker back into employment at the Rights Commissioners hearing but he chose not to accept the offer.
The claim before the Court brought under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, concerns the worker’s complaint over the Company’s actions in listening in on a telephone conversation on 17th November, 2004. His representative described his claim as being one where he was“subjected to “distasteful” practice by employer”.He claimed €10,000 compensation.
As a result of the overheard telephone conversation on 17th November, 2004, the worker tendered his resignation and subsequently took a claim for unfair dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 – 2001.
Counsel for the Company raised the issue of estoppel and the Court dealt with this as a preliminary issue. However, the worker’s representative accepted that the issue of his dismissal was not before the Court. On that basis the Court accepted the above-mentioned issue for recommendation under Section 20 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court notes the Company’s policy on monitoring calls which provides for:
- “listening to the agents’ call without the employee being aware that they were being monitored”
The Court also notes the Company’s Code of Business Conduct, which states
- “Just as United has a set of corporate values that guide our behaviour toward each other and our customers, our company also has a written code of Business Conduct that defines the professional conduct expected of every employee at United Airlines”
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, theCourt does not accept that it was inappropriate for the Team Leader to listen into the telephone call on the day. Despite the fact that she was not the worker’s Team Leader, the Court accepts that by virtue of the signed acceptance of the Company’s terms of employment, policies and Code of Business Conduct, the worker had no grounds to object to this practice.
Additionally, the Court does not accept that the worker had no opportunity to air his grievance over this practice. The Company had a grievance procedure in place; he opted not to avail of the procedures. Similarly, he opted not to avail of the opportunity to have the incident on 17th November, 2004, investigated when such an investigation was offered to him.
The Court finds no grounds to recommend in favour of the compensation claimed for the practice complained of and notes that the worker failed to mitigate his loss when the Company offered to do so.
Therefore, the Court does not find in favour of the worker’s claim. The claim is therefore dismissed.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
10th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.