EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
CLAIM OF: CASE NO.
Sheila Campbell claimant UD298/2013
Our World Montessori Limited respondent
UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS, 1977 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Ms P. McGrath B.L.
Members: Mr F. Moloney
Mr T. Brady
heard this claim at Dublin on 25th March 2014
Claimant : Mr Cathal McGreal B L instructed by
Wendy Doyle, Solicitors, 20 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
Respondent : Peninsula Business Services (Ireland) Limited,
Unit 3, Ground Floor, Block S, East Point Business Park, Dublin 3
The determination of the Tribunal was as follows:
Whilst the parties chose not to go into the history of their relationship from April 2012. It was agreed at different times that the relationship was absolutely fraught and the Tribunal would deduce from the evidence that what was alluded to that there was no rapport between the employee and the employer and their dialogue was by way of letter. Not ideal in the workplace and in particular around small children.
On balance the Tribunal accepts that the employer was minded to allow the pre-Montessori class become redundant within the workplace. From Easter of 2012 it was obvious to the claimant that the intake for the following September had not been made known. When the claimant went on her leave at the end of June she was aware of the fact that nothing had been said with respect to a return date.
In August of 2012 the Claimant was informed that there had been an unprecedented downturn in business which would necessitate the need for voluntary redundancies. The Tribunal notes that there was a marked absence of effort to get the numbers up as the Claimant believed that the Respondent had decided to let the Claimant’s pre-Montessori classroom fall away from the picture thus allowing for a natural severing of the employer/employee relationship.
The Respondent’s own Montessori class was not particularly affected by the purported drop in numbers and her class continues to operate to this day.
The Tribunal accepts that the Respondent manufactured a set of circumstances which allowed the Respondent put the Claimant on lay-off. This lay-off was not genuine and does not qualify under the definition proposed in the Redundancy Payments Acts whereby notice is required-none was given. Also the employer has to have a reasonable belief that the situation was temporary. The employer never believed this was a temporary situation as by doing nothing to fill the pre-Montessori class the employer was in fact ensuring its demise.
The Tribunal finds that no true and genuine redundancy existed and that the claimant being put on lay-off was in fact being dismissed as there was only ever one outcome being envisaged by the employer.
The claimant had tried to engage with the employer (albeit by correspondence) to see what was being done about re-opening the pre-Montessori class. Her overtures were rebuffed. There was never a concerted effort to rescue the ore-school class.
Ultimately the claimant took a redundancy package and did so by way of an RP9 process.
The situation is unusual to the Tribunal in that the claimant has made the deliberate step in looking for her redundancy (and it is noted in doing so lost her right to a claim for minimum notice)
However, the Tribunal very firmly recognises that the Respondent employer behaved in such a way so as to orchestrate the demise of the pre-/Montessori class and the consequent obliteration of the Claimant’s post. The claimant was forced to take whatever she could from the situation in the form of a statutory redundancy of circa €7,000.00.
The Tribunal finds that under the Unfair Dismissal Acts, 1977 to 2007 the Claimant was unfairly dismissed and taking into consideration the payment already made under a purported redundancy, the Tribunal awards the Claimant a further €10,000.00 as compensation under the above Acts.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal