ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00003868
Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) for Resolution:
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 05/12/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Tierney
In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 [and/or Section 8(1B) of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, and/or Section 9 of the Protection of Employees (Employers’ Insolvency) Act, 1984, and/or Section 79 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, and/or Section 25 of the Equal Status Act, 2000] 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).
Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
The Claimant was dismissed wholly by reason of his conduct. The dismissal was fair.
He verbally threatened and abused another staff member in a public area which is used by other employees, external stakeholders including airline staff, contractors etc. The staff member in question was on duty and was aggressively confronted by the Claimant. The Claimant had no reason to be in this area at this time. The Claimant’s actions were completely unacceptable and amounted to gross misconduct.
The Claimant was fully trained and aware of the company policies, values and expectations of a staff member in his role. He acted in an irresponsible, unacceptable and inappropriate manner. This was not the first incident of such an occurrence; he had previously been sanctioned in relation to behaviours towards passengers. The only appropriate sanction was dismissal.
The Claimant’s action on 8 March 2016 amounted to gross misconduct as would be defined by a reasonable employer, and as is set out by the company’s disciplinary procedure, which forms part of the Claimant’s terms and conditions of employment (of which he signed upon commencement of his employment). The procedure states that ‘abusive or threatening behaviour’ and / or ‘engaging in bullying or harassing behaviour... are examples of gross misconduct, for which summary dismissal can be imposed. His actions on 8 March were threatening and aggressive behaviour which impinged on the rights of his fellow employee.
Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:
The Claimant contends that he was unfairly dismissed. The dismissal is disproportionate having regard for all the circumstances. Furthermore his entitlement to fair procedures and natural justice were not fully observed. To that end, the investigation into his alleged misconduct was initiated at the behest of an individual who was not personally involved in the conversation which occurred between the Claimant and the other employee.
It was submitted where no formal complaint was made by the employee involved, there ought not to have been any disciplinary procedures. The Claimant had an unblemished employment record. He was not afforded the right to cross examine witnesses in the course of the investigation. It was further argued that the terms of the disciplinary procedures were not properly adhered to.
It was also, submitted that the ultimate sanction of dismissal was too severe having regard to the findings of the disciplinary panel. It was disproportionate. Given the infringements of fair procedure and natural justice, the Respondent was seeking any reason to justify the dismissal The constitutional doctrine of proportionality is a well-established one in case law. It is submitted that there must be an objective link between the offence of which an employee is found guilty and the penalty that they receive as a result. That objective link is absent in this case.
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.
[Section 8(1B) of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 requires that I make a decision in relation to the unfair dismissal claim consisting of a grant of redress in accordance with section 7 of the 1977 Act.
I have considered the submissions of both parties. I am satisfied from the witness evidence and CCTV records that the Claimant threatened and abused another member of staff on 8 March 2016. I accept that the dismissal of the Claimant was both substantively justified and procedurally fair.
I do not find the claim of unfair dismissal well founded and it fails.