EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
Michael Fogarty, Principal Solicitor t/a O'Donnell and Sweeney Solicitors
REDUNDANCY PAYMENTS ACTS 1967 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Ms. E. Daly B.L.
Members: Mr. D. Morrison
Ms. R. Kerrigan
heard this appeal at Letterkenny on 22nd October 2015, 26th January 2016 and 18th May 2016
Appellant: Mr Pat Curtain, 27 Castleknock Drive, Castleknock, Dublin 15
Respondent: PA Dorrian & Co, Solicitors, St. Anne’s Court, High Road, Letterkenny, Co Donegal
The claimant was employed by the respondent, a Solicitors office in December 1970. She ran the administration side of the practice. The Principle Solicitor retired as of the 1st of December 2013 and finished working in the office on the 12th of December 2013. All liabilities, insurance etc transferred to the Dungloe office of the practice as of the 1st of December 2013. The claimant had no connection with that office although she had some contact with the staff there.
The claimant was on notice that the office would be closing on the 1st of December 2013. At the end of October and mid-November the offer of an alternative job in the Dungloe office was made. The claimant did not consider accepting the offer as she had been in the original office for so long. The claimant suggested redundancy to the respondent but was informed that she was not entitled as she had refused the alternative job offer. The job offer was made a second time to the claimant but as far as she was concerned the original office was her sole place of employment and she was not given the offer in writing.
The claimant was not aware that her place of employment was a sub office of the main practice in Dungloe nor that Dungloe was the head office. The claimant did attend a training course in the Dungloe office but was not aware that the computer systems were connected to her office. The Dungloe office is 16 miles away which is a significant distance for the claimant to drive. Although staff from another sub office accepted positions in Dungloe, the claimant’s situation is different because of her length of service. An additional firm offered the claimant employment but she also refused it as it did not suit her.
JS solicitor and partner gave evidence of 3 offices belonging to the firm, Gweedore, Dungloe and Glenties. She said that she had little imput into the Glenties office, it was MF’s baby and he ran it but the 3 locations were still one firm. Audits were done of the 3 locations and as MF was retiring it made economic sense that the 3 offices became one that would be based in Dungloe where JS practiced.
She was aware that the claimant had worked with MF for a long time and he asked about her position. Redundancy was not an option, the respondent couldn’t afford it so JS told MF that she would be happy to take the claimant to the Dungloe office, she was a very experienced member of staff. MF said he would speak with the claimant about the move and later told JS that she had declined the offer, saying she wasn’t interested.
Asked if she personally had any dealings with the claimant she said “no” she had no reason to be involved. It would have been a situation of last in to her office would have been the first out.
She said the claimant was asked for a second time and after the second refusal alternative arrangements were made and discussions had taken place with other staff members so it was not possible backtrack on the promises made to them.
MF gave evidence of retiring at the age of 82. He never had any issues with the claimant and said he was always very good to her. He said that he felt an obligation to her and if she had ever left he would have closed the office earlier. MF told the Tribunal that the alternative employment was only 10kms away and the claimant drove a car.
He told her that he was retiring around the end of September and that the Glenties and Gweedore offices would close. He subsequently then asked that she go to work in Dungloe but she flatly refused. She was asked her position around two weeks later and she again refused to consider going to Dungloe. He advised JS of the situation and things progressed without the claimant.
MF said he then received an e-mail on 29th November from the claimant stating that she would consider the offer once she received the conditions in writing, she also sought the amount of statutory redundancy she would be entitled to. He replied stating that she had been offered the position on two occasions, made it clear that she was not interested in same and he had to complete the negotiations on what his understanding was at that time. He also went on to state that securing her a position on his retirement was a very important issue for him and a vital part of his negotiations with JS.
This matter came before the Tribunal by way of a claim for a Redundancy Payment. The Tribunal is satisfied from the evidence adduced that the claimant was not dismissed by reason of Redundancy. The claimant was offered suitable, reasonable, alternative employment and refused same on two occasions. Immediately following the second refusal the respondent finalised his agreement with another solicitor based on no longer having any ongoing obligations for the claimant’s employment, accordingly, the claim under the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 2007 fails.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal