EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
Anne Marie Furlong - claimant
Empathy Marketing Limited T/A Pigsback.Com - respondent
UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS 1977 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Mr J. Revington S.C.
Members: Mr P. Pierce
Mr. S. O'Donnell
heard this claim at Dublin on 14th October 2015
Claimant(s) : Mr Paul Hutchinson B.L. instructed by Mr. Sean Ormonde, Sean Ormonde & Co. Solicitors, Suite 19, The Atrium, Canada Street, Waterford
Respondent(s) : Company director Mr John McDonald
Summary of Evidence
The respondent company is an online marketing and sales business offering daily deals and discounts to its customers. The business is divided into three business units hotels and breaks, local services and dining and shopping and gifts. Company director (P.McD) told the Tribunal that since 2011 the business was not in a strong position financially with twenty five employees based at its main office at the present time. The claimant was employed as an account manager for the south east region. The claimant performed well managing to quickly secure accounts with retailers. The claimant identified hotels in the region and successfully secured business although it was not her responsibility. Having achieved her targets the claimant was assigned to the hotel business. The hotel and breaks business was seasonal and in July 2013 with the claimant not reaching her target she began to secure accounts in the shopping and gifts business. In October 2013 the claimant was moved to the shopping and gifts business unit full time. It was agreed that the claimant adapted well between business units and was flexible in her employment. P.McD recruited another employee to the hotels and breaks business unit in December 2013. The claimant handed over her client accounts and contacts to PK the newly recruited employee. During September, October and November 2013 the claimant had good success in the shopping and gifts sector. Sales dropped for December 2013 and there was no improvement during January and February 2014. Following an informal discussion with the board of directors a decision was taken to withdraw from the shopping and gifts sector in February 2014. The claimant was informed on the 26 February 2014 and was advised that redundancy was a most likely outcome. Further losses were incurred during March and April and at a meeting the claimant was informed of her entitlements and notice period. The claimant’s employment ended by way of redundancy in May 2014.
The claimant gave evidence of commencing employment with the respondent company in September 2011 in the role of accounts manager with responsibility for developing business in the south east. She worked on securing good clients and developed the hotel and breaks business in the region. During 2013 she had a good year and met her targets. From July 2013 when the hotel business became quiet she veered into products and gifts in order to achieve targets. The respondent informed her that they were going into product distribution in October 2013 and she took on the role in that area. She had hoped that she would also retain her hotel clients however she was asked to hand over that business to PK in December 2013. As she had expected products was quiet in January and the product distribution business was not performing well. In February 2014 she received a call from the respondent and was informed she was being made redundant. The claimant attended a meeting with P.McD the following day and was told that others were being made redundant. It was agreed she would continue in products on her own and suggested she return to local retail business. On her return from annual leave she received her letter of termination dated the 28 April 2014. The claimant’s employment ended on the 30 May 2014.
The Tribunal carefully considered the evidence adduced by the parties. The respondent did not provide any financial documentation to support the decision to terminate the claimant’s employment by way of redundancy. The respondent accepted that the employee hand book should include a policy on redundancy. There was no evidence of the respondent meeting with the entire workforce and no selection criteria for redundancy was established.
The claimant had an excellent performance record regularly exceeding targets and achieving bonus payments. The respondent failed to consider the core client base she had established and was forced to hand over to a newly recruited employee in December 2013. Between the 26 February and May 2014 the respondent failed to communicate in any meaningful way with the claimant on her selection and reselection for redundancy. The respondent did not follow the last in first out policy and the Tribunal heard evidence of two account managers who were recruited after the claimant not being made redundant. The respondent ignored the claimant’s proven flexibility and ability to work between the different business units.
In all the circumstances the Tribunal finds that the claimant was unfairly dismissed from her employment. The Tribunal awards the claimant the sum of €20,000 compensation under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal