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Unfair Dismissal and Gross Misconduct

The recently published case of A Warehouse Supervisor v A Logistics Company reiterates the general principles of natural justice and fair procedure in effecting a dismissal.

Of interest are the comments from the Adjudicator in respect of the length of time it took the employer to issue the dismissal letter after the disciplinary hearing. He notes:

At the hearing Mr A confirmed that he the time between the disciplinary hearing ending and the dismissal letter being issued was about 70 minutes. I find the length of time given to consider the matter to be insufficient to allow proper consideration of all the aspects of the case and gives rise to a suspicion that the decision to dismiss was pre-determined”   

The Workplace Relations Commission in this case found that the dismissal was warranted but that the procedure adopted was unfair including the fact that the employee should have been informed at the outset that an investigation was taking place.

The employee in this case was only awarded two month’s salary as he was able to find work within a few days of being dismissed.

Case Tip – Employers should ensure there is no pre-determination of “guilt” before any disciplinary hearing takes place and to ensure time is taken to reflect on all the facts before a decision to dismiss is made. In this case just over an hour was insufficient time to make the decision to dismiss.

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