ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00024294
A Senior Citrix Administrator
An IT Consulting and Support Company
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: 21/01/2020
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Michael McEntee
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969following the referral of the complaint / dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint / dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint / dispute.
This Adjudication (Adj 24294) is closely linked to Adj 24302
The issues in contention concern allegations of “Character Assassination” by former colleagues, unfair background checking by the current employer, accepting unverified “bad mouthing” of the Worker, an unfair Performance Improvement Process that was both unwarranted and completely unnecessary. It was a blatantly biased exercise. The Employer also was aware of unwarranted verbal attacks on the Worker by colleagues and unwarranted criticisms of the Worker by the main client IT Managers. He was also subjected to harassment outside of the Workplace by colleagues who had unwarranted access to his Garmin Cycling account and mysterious incidents at his own private residence.
1: Summary of Complainant’s Case: Based on Oral and Written evidence.
The Worker was employed by the cited employer, an IT Support and Contracting company, from September 2015 to April 2019. He was deployed to a support role in a major Government Department. He made numerous allegations against former colleagues who he maintained had conducted a campaign of slanderous blackening of his character arising from incidents in a previous employer in the period from 2009 to 2014. As the IT world in Dublin is a small “pool” character assassination can be very damaging. Detailed evidence of alleged conversations and very disparaging off the cuff remarks by co-workers were made by the Worker in this case. In addition, the Senior Civil Servant in the main Department made very negative comments that were unfair and damaging.
The Employer put in place a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) in October 2017 running to March 2018. The PIP was completely unwarranted and was a form of harassment. His immediate Manager in the IT Company, Ms. Xa, had treated him dismissively and had made unnecessary issues over his Exam leave. Eventually he had had to leave the Company to make a new start. However, the blackballing had continued and his efforts to secure other work had all come to naught despite very good interviews. The whispering campaign against him continued and was aided and abetted by the Employer in this case.
2: Summary of Employer Case: Written and Oral Submissions.
The Employer completely refuted the allegations in the Worker submissions. The Worker had not been subject to any Disciplinary action and had resigned voluntarily on the 29th March 2019.
Much of what is in the Worker’s submission is hearsay. The Manager from the Department of Z who is liberally referred to by the Worker was not present at the hearing. The Performance Improvement Plan put in place from October 2017 to March 2018 was entirely justified by the Employer and was based on objective business shortcomings by the Worker. It had been explained in detail to him at the start of the PIP process. Any suggestions that it was a fabricated exercise to “Get at him” were absolutely denied. A meeting of the 6th October between management and the Worker was cited in evidence. He had successfully come out of the Plan with a good level of improved performance.
In relation to issues with colleagues, those that the Worker had brought to management attention were properly treated and followed up on. A colleague had been cautioned about flippant remarks.
The Worker was invited to lodge a Formal Grievance but had declined to do so. In the last 12 months of his employment he had raised no issues of an employment nature.
Regarding contacts with former Employers, no such contacts as portrayed had taken palce. In line with standard practice his previous service record had been checked with former employers. That was as far as it went. Likewise, the Employer did not give post exit references to any new employers other than to confirm his factual employment record. The lurid portrait of the Employer soliciting gossip from former Employers and engaging in gossip after he had left their employment was simply a complete fabrication.
The Worker had resigned voluntarily albeit making some allegations about his Manager in his resignation e mail. He had been met by a Senior Manager, Mx Xb, post the receipt of the resignation. The Worker clearly stated that he wanted to make a new start. He was finishing a Degree in IT at TCD and felt it was a good time to move on.
This case was brought under the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Worker’s submission was lengthy and detailed but unfortunately for his case contained large amounts of hearsay that was not supported by evidence that could be legally examined. In particular allegations concerning a Senior Manager in Department X featured prominently.
Natural Justice requires that unsupported allegations concerning individuals who are not present to give their version of events have to be set aside.
The issue that was supported by Employer evidence was the PIP. From the Employer evidence presented (which was open to full cross examination from the Worker) it did not appear that there was anything unnecessarily untoward or unfair to the Worker in the process.
The evidence indicated that incidents involving colleagues and various alleged remarks made were followed up on from the Employer as best they could. The Worker declined to ever make any formal Grievances.
The allegations about fellow workers interfering with the Worker’s evening cycling trips, his Garmin computer etc, his home alarm system etc took place outside of work. The Management properly advised him to bring these matters to the attention of the Gardai.
The Employer Management witness gave, in my opinion, credible professional evidence. They had handled all issues professionally. The Worker was inclined to rely too much on suppositions based on hearsay evidence that could not be tested.
In final summary after reviewing all the evidence presented and discounting a lot of hearsay my Recommendation is that the Worker concerned accept that he was treated properly by the Employer in this case and now concentrate on his future career.
The allegations of character assignation by former colleagues lacked any proper evidential foundation and I could not make any Recommendation on this basis.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
I formally Recommend that the Worker concerned accept that he was treated properly and professionally by the Employer concerned.
Allegations of “character assassination” were not supported by any proper evidence. I accordingly Recommend that they be regarded as legally Not Well Founded.
Dated: September 11th 2020
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Michael McEntee