ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Recommendation Reference: ADJ-00004405
Dispute 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: 12/12/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Louise Boyle
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969, following referral to me by the Director General, I inquired into the aforesaid dispute received by the Workplace Relations Commission (hereinafter ‘WRC’) on 3rd August 2016 and gave the Parties an opportunity to be heard and to present any relevant evidence. I note that there was consent from the Respondent to the investigation of this dispute by an Adjudication Officer. I proceeded to a hearing of the matter on 12th December 2016. The Complainant represented herself whilst the Respondent was represented by the HR Suite. All written and oral evidence presented to the WRC including the detailed complaint form and documentation submitted on behalf of the Respondent at the hearing have been taken into consideration when coming to this decision.
Attendance at Hearing:
An Ambient Supervisor
Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:
The complainant commenced employment on a Fixed Term Contract working as an Ambient Supervisor, commencing on 23/11/2015 and finishing on 02/07/2016. She stated that from the beginning she felt the store manager’s attitude towards her was very negative and that she was never given an opportunity to learn her job properly. The complainant stated that she felt very uncomfortable when asking the store manager for any help as the store manager said she should only have to be shown something once. It was claimed by the complainant that she had mentioned the store manager’s behaviour to her directly on two occasions but that her store manager dismissed her and said that the only reason the complainant was upset was because the complainant’s performance was poor. She cited a number of examples where she felt the manager acted inappropriately including that the store manager said she was not paid to use her own initiate and that on an other occasion she was refused an annual leave day.
Things became so stressful for her that her health was suffering and she brought her complaints to the attention of the store owner whom she always held in good regard but felt that he was dismissive of her. She also felt upset that the store manager was going to be in attendance at the meeting with the store owner and her father had to intervene. She did eventually meet with the store owner on her own where she provided him with a written letter of her grievances. She confirmed that while he did provide her with a copy of the grievance procedure at that meeting on 14th May 2016, that she made a decision not to utilise it as she felt there was no point. She remained out of work on certified sick leave until her contract ended. .
She outlined that she has worked in roles previously and is currently working and has always had a good work record and wanted an explanation for why the store manager treated her the way she did.
Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
The respondent sent in a detailed submission shortly before the hearing which can be summarised as follows:
The complainant was hired on a fixed term contract to cover maternity leave and was issued with and signed her contract of employment. The company has policies and procedures in place including a grievance procedure and a bullying and harassment policy contained in their handbook which the complainant would have received a copy of.
The respondent did have concerns with regard to the complainant’s performance and addressed those with her. The complainant appeared to be upset about the the store manager refusing her request for annual leave, however, they had always faciliate her with as much time off as they could. The respondent stated it was the complainant who wanted the store manager to be in attendance at the meeting with the store owner. When the complaints were brought to the attention of the store owner against the store manager on 14th May 2016, he advised the complainant of the grievance procedure. Later, when the complainant contacted the company by telephone to say she would not be utilising the internal grievance procedure, the respondent wrote to her on 24th May 2016, confirming receipt of this phone call and wrote out to her regarding her absence as she had failed to send in sick certs and afforded her again the opportunity to have an independent third party investigate the grievance in a letter dated 7th June 2016. The complainant did not use the internal policy and proceudres or avail of a third party thus preventling the company from investigating her issues.
Reasons and Findings:
The complainant was clearly upset at the manner in which she felt her supervisor interacted with her and indeed during the hearing it was quite evident that the presence of the store manager in the room was continuing to cause her and her family much upset. She was also within her right to request a meeting with the manager on her own to discuss her grievances albeit it was not clear whether this had initially been refused. In any event, the store owner did meet her on her own to discuss her grievance and she handed him a detailed letter outlining those grievances.
While it might have been expected that the manager would have formally written out to the complainant confirming receipt of her grievance and formally outlining the company’s procedure at an earlier date than was done, I am satisfied that it was confirmed by the complainant that the store owner did provide her with a copy of the grievance procedure at that meeting and asked her how she wanted her complaint to be dealt with. The complainant also confirmed that a week later she phoned the store and said that she would not be using the grievance procedure which was confirmed in writing by the respondent. The respondent subsequently wrote to the complainant on 7th June 2016 outlining further options available to her to ensure her complaints were investigated which she chose not to avail of.
Although one can fully understand the upset that the complainant felt with how the store manager was allegedly interacting with her, it does not justify the complainant’s failure to exhaust all internal appeal and other dispute resolution mechanisms before referring the subject matter of her grievance as a dispute to the WRC.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969, requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
On the basis of the evidence and my findings above I declare the dispute referred by the Complainant is not well founded and that it should fail.
Dated: 13 January 2017