ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00004596
Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) 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, 1969
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 04/11/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Emile Daly
In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 following the referral of the complaint(s)/dispute(s) to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint(s)/dispute(s) and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint(s)/dispute(s).
Attendance at Hearing:
A Care Assistant
Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:
I made a complaint of bulling against my manager in Nov 15. I don't believe it was handled properly and I requested a move to get away from the situation. The matter was investigated in August 16 and I am dissatisfied with the findings.
The Complainant gave the following evidence:
I work as a care assistant for the Respondent in a hospital
I started working in a ward with my line manager, N, on 6 July 2015
Prior to then I had no interpersonal difficulties or any other difficulties at work. I have always enjoyed my work and I enjoy working with young adults with disabilities.
As soon as I started working with N, I found her abrasive, aggressive and I felt that her treatment of the service users in the ward to be inappropriate
I made a complaint under the Respondent’s Dignity at Work Policy about N’s bullying treatment of me. This was after an incident that occurred on 15 October 2015, where N shouted at her and belittled her by accusing her of being unable to read and write. A week prior to then she also bullied me and treated me with disrespect.
The complaint was investigated and terms of reference of the investigation were signed off on by my SIPTU representative. The terms of reference of the investigation only dealt with my complaint of bullying, it did not deal with my allegation that N was behaving inappropriately, towards service users.
The investigation took place between May 2016 and August 2016.
The finding of the investigation was that the complaint was not upheld.
I am unhappy with the finding because I told the truth during the investigation and there was no criticism of N about her treatment of me and no penal sanction was applied to N.
Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
The Respondent gave the following evidence:
A complaint was made by the Complainant under the Respondent’s Dignity at Work Policy.
The complaint was one of bullying and harassment
The complaint was dealt with under and in accordance with the terms of the Respondent’s Dignity at Work Policy
The process of the investigation was that investigators, who were employees of the Respondent but who were independent of the parties to the complainant and independent of the incidents complained of, were appointed.
The terms of reference of the investigation were agreed and accepted by the Complainant through her trade union representative. The terms of reference dealt solely with the allegation of bullying and did not extend to an investigation into improper treatment of service users
The investigators interviewed the Complainant, interviewed N and interviewed witnesses
A draft report was circulated. This gave any interested party to respond to the report prior to it being finalised.
No amendments of the draft report were sought by the Complainant or her representatives
The final report was issued on 22 August 2016
The report stated its findings and applying a definition of bullying and harassment as set out in the Dignity at Work policy, the investigators found that on the balance of probabilities, that the allegations of bullying and harassment had not been met.
No argument has been put forward querying the definitions of bullying and or harassment in the Respondent’s Dignity and Work Policy.
No argument has been out forward that the investigation process as outlined in the Respondent’s Dignity at Work Policy is unfair
No argument has been put forward that there were flaws in the way that the investigation was carried out or that the Respondent Dignity at Work Policy was not adhered to
No argument has been made that the terms of reference were not adhered to
The position of the Complainant is that she is unhappy with the findings of the investigation because she was not believed by the investigators.
An Adjudicator is confined to altering a finding by an investigation only if some flaw in the investigation has been demonstrated, which it has not.
An Adjudicator cannot put herself into the position of the investigation team, and find an alternative finding, because it has not had the benefit of interviewing the witnesses involved and having conducted the investigation.
Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint(s)/dispute(s) in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
I listened carefully to the evidence of the Complainant and the Respondents.
I accept that Complainant was very upset as a result of the incidents that occurred on the ward where she was working. I accept that the work that the Complainant does is challenging work and the work is of great value, not only to the service users but also to society at large. I feel sympathy for her and I am happy that she has been relocated to an alternative work and this relocation is working out very well for her.
I have no reasons to disbelieve anything that the Complainant said during the hearing and I found her to be truthful and candid in every respect.
However my role is not to investigate the complaint originally lodged with her employer on 29 November 2015, rather my role is to hear to how the complaint was dealt with and to make a finding as to the fairness and correctness of how the complaint was investigated. As no complaint has been made about the process, I am not free to upset the findings of the investigation.
Neither can I make any criticism of the terms of reference of the investigation as these were agreed and signed off on by the Complainant, through her trade union representative.
I am happy that the Complainant continues to work for the Respondent in an area of work in which she is committed to and highly skilled in. The care work that the Complainant does is of immense importance and requires empathy, not literacy ability. She should be proud of the work that she does and the contribution that she makes to the work of the Respondent and society at large.
Whilst I have much sympathy and respect for the Complainant, on the basis of the evidence put forward and submissions made, I find this complaint to be not well founded.
Dated: 9th December 2016