ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00000880
Complaints for Resolution:
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946
Venue: Ardboyne Hotel Navan, Co. Meath
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 14/06/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Walsh
In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and under Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 following the referral of the complaints to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaints and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaints.
The Complainant is employed by the Respondent since 7th October 2007. He alleges that the Respondent failed to investigate properly two allegations of bullying and harassment which he made against two supervisors. He alleges that the findings and recommendations were issued without meeting with him. That he was not provided with a copy of the bullying and harassment policy in order to process his complaints. He would like his allegations to be investigated and appropriate action to be taken to stop him being bullied and harassed. He filed a complaint under the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 on the 3rd of the 12th 2015.
The following is a summary of the Complainant’s submission presented by his representative. The Complainant suffered inappropriate behaviour on a number of occasions during the course of his employment which undermined his right to dignity at work. The cited behaviour involved two different acting managers who on different occasions- December 2014 and March 2015, had treated the Complainant in an aggressive and bullying manner. The first acting manager (M.C.) had treated the Complainant in aggressive and bullying manner on three separate occasions over a four day period resulting in the Complainant feeling unwell. The Complainant visited the company doctor and was absent from work for a period due to diagnosed work-related stress.
The second acting manager (S.Mc C) had behaved in a similar manner on one occasion, resulting in the Complainant feeling unwell and having to go home early from work that day. The Complainant’s treatment by both acting managers has had a negative effect on his health. He was also penalised for his absence in terms of a cut in his overtime pay coming up to the Christmas period in 2014.
The Complainant made efforts to resolve his complaints locally by writing letters on separate occasions to three different members of management highlighting the issues relating to both acting managers. No member of management responded to these letters at that time and as far as the Complainant was concerned, no investigations were carried out or any efforts made to resolve the matter. They did not try to meet with the Complainant or discuss what had happened. No bullying or harassment procedure was followed despite having a company policy in place. Months later, when management eventually responded in writing to the Complainant about the March 2015 incident, they totally refuted the allegations that the Complainant had made and stated that as the Complainant had not forwarded any further evidence or information to back up his allegations they considered the matter closed.
It was insinuated that the Complainant’s understanding of the situation was misinterpreted. The Complainant sought the assistance of a representative in an attempt to resolve the matter. The representative wrote to the respondent highlighting the complaints of the Complainant and offered them the opportunity to resolve the matters through internal procedures. Management did not respond to this letter or to a follow up letter that was sent two weeks later. The HR representative also requested the ‘Dignity at Work’ policy from the Respondent. The request was ignored. The HR manager wrote directly to the Complainant refuting his allegations. It was insinuated that the Complainant had over reacted to situations that had arisen. They refuted that they had not carried out an investigation but that instead that they had asked both acting managers for their opinion on what had happened. However at no stage did they ask to meet with the Complainant to investigate the matter further and did not disclose to the Complainant the responses of the two acting managers in order to allow the Complainant to reply. At this stage all the Complainant wants is closure of this matter. He wants to have the allegations investigated and that appropriate action be taken by management to stop the behaviour and treatment which has caused damage to his health and well being.
The following is a summary of the Respondent’s submission;
On the 13th December 2014 the Complainant wrote to his HR manager (J.H) to advise him that he was absent from work due to work related stress arising from the actions of the acting manager (M.C.). The Complainant alleged that (M.C.) had addressed him in an aggressive and bullying manner on the 9th,10th and 12th of December 2014. His interactions with (M.C.) on those dates related to his performance at work, specifically additional work to be undertaken because of the time of year.
Arising from this letter the DSM (A.B.) met with the Complainant on the 28th January 2015 to discuss his complaint. He had met with (M.C.) the previous day. The Complainants position was that he wanted an apology from M.C.. M.C.’s position was that the allegation made by the Complainant was false and should be withdrawn. (A.B.) believed the complaint did not amount to bullying or harassment in the context of the An Post ‘Dignity at Work’ policy. He felt that the most appropriate course of action was that he would facilitate a meeting between the parties. Such a meeting was not possible as the Complainant informed (A.B.) that he does not want to be in the same room as (M.C.) The matter could not be progressed any further.( A.B.) formally confirmed the status of the Complainant’s complaint to him in a letter dated the 29th of September 2015.
On the 26th March 2015, the Complainant complained to (A.B.) that he had been spoken to in a very aggressive and bullying manner by a working leader (S.McC.). He demanded either a written apology or a full verbal apology from (S.Mc.C).( A.B.) raised the matter with (S.McC). who strongly refuted that he had spoken to the Complainant in the manner described. (S.Mc.C) confirmed he had cause to speak to the Complainant because of his failure to comply with the requirement to progress missorts on his delivery rather than leaving it for someone else to do.
On the 12th November 2015, in response to the Complainant’s representative the HR manager (J.H.) wrote to the Complainant setting out in detail the Respondents position in relation to both complaints and inviting the Complainant to make available any other information that might be reviewed by (J.H). (J.H.) also enclosed a copy of the Company’s Grievance and Disciplinary procedure. The Complainant’s representative replied to this letter on the 19th November 2015. J.H. did not receive the letter at this time. He was not at work for a number of weeks because of illness.
The matters about which the Complainant complains have been appropriately addressed by the Respondent. The matters concern interactions between the Complainant and members of the DSU management team directly relating to the Complainant’s performance at work. The Complainant’s DSM (A.B.) and HR manager (J.H.) formed the view that the incidents complained of did not amount to bullying or harassment, but rather involved reasonable management of issues of performance arising in the workplace. The Complainant was advised of this in a letter to him from (J.H.) dated the 12th November 2015. The Complainant was invited to, but did not offer any additional information to support his claim of bullying and harassment.
The Complainant made complaints of bullying and harassment against one of his supervisors on the 13th of December 2014 and against a second supervisor on the 26thMarch 2015. The Complainant was not provided on either occasion with a copy of the ‘Dignity at Work’ policy in relation to bullying and harassment. He should have been provided with this document by the Respondent on receipt of his Complaints and advised to outline his Complaint in line with the terms of the policy. On the 23rd October 2015, the Complainant’s representative requested a copy of this policy from the Respondent. This request was ignored. The Respondent did provide a copy of the Grievance and Dispute procedure to the Complainant. When an employee makes a complaint of bullying and harassment, a copy of the ‘Dignity at Work’ policy should be provided. In this case, the Respondent failed to follow its own policy which it has in place.
Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 and under Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaints in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
Based on the evidence presented at the hearing by both parties, I find that the complaint is well founded. I order the Respondent to issue to the Complainant a copy of the Dignity at Work Policy so that he will be in a position to outline his complaints in line with the terms of this policy. If it is found that the complaints outlined by the Complainant could be considered as bullying and harassment in line with the policy, then an independent investigator should be appointed to follow out a full investigation into these complaints. This decision must be implemented within 6 weeks of the date of this decision.
Dated: 9th August 2016