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Unfair Dismissal

Award of €25,000 for lack of fair procedure

Unfair Dismissal – Award of €25,000 for lack of fair procedure


In a recent claim for unfair dismissal (An Employee v An Employer UD 211/2011, MN 207/2011) the Tribunal awarded the Claimant €25,000 taking into account her contribution to the dismissal. In particular the Tribunal noted the lack of fair procedure afforded to the Claimant prior to her dismissal.

Background

The Claimant was employed as a pharmacy counter assistant by the Respondent from 2003. The manager of the branch where the Claimant worked went to the Managing Director (MD) to report allegations made against the Claimant. The MD held a meeting with the branch manager
in April/May 2010 whereby the manager brought a number of allegations to the attention of the MD including that:

  • the Claimant threw a stapler at her manager;
  • the Claimant threw her coat at a pregnant member of staff which caused the staff member to stumble;
  • the Claimant aggressively pushed a chair down on the floor which caused a member of staff to
    complain;
  • the Claimant was asked not to place an order until after her holidays but she went ahead and
    placed the order anyway;
  • the Claimant refused to change an incorrectly priced item of stock and
  • the Claimant was using foul language, stamping her feet, grunting, did not want to serve customers
    and certain customers refused to be served by the Claimant.

A meeting was held with the Claimant, the branch manager and the MD on 13th July 2010. The Claimant was given a document with the list of the complaints which the Claimant accepted but no explanation was given by the Claimant for her conduct. It was determined at the meeting that there was no option but to dismiss the Claimant for gross misconduct.
During cross-examination, it emerged that the MD did not advise the Claimant she was under investigation and that the Claimant was only informed the previous day about the meeting. The Claimant had asked for a second chance but the MD felt that the matter was too serious. The Respondent noted that the complaints made were oral complaints and that the Claimant was not informed about the purpose of the meeting of 13th July.Equally the Respondent noted that no CCTV footage was viewed in relation to the complaints made.

The Claimant gave evidence that she felt she had a good working relationship with the Respondent and never had any previous complaints. She gave evidence that on 13th July she was advised at approximately 2.30pm that the MD wished to see her that evening. The  Claimant felt that it may be about reducing her hours or her pay and when the list of allegations were put to her she felt overwhelmed. The Claimant gave evidence that she was not advised in advance what the meeting was about, she was given no opportunity to bring a representative with her and when she was told her employment was being terminated she asked for a second chance.

Determination
The Tribunal noted:

  •  The Respondent did not follow any acceptable procedure in dismissing the Claimant;
  • The Claimant received no contract of employment and there were no grievance procedures in place;
  • The Claimant was not given any opportunity to have representation at a meeting that lead to her
    dismissal;
  • The Claimant was not made aware of the seriousness of the meeting and she was
    given no right of appeal;

The Tribunal found that the Claimant was unfairly dismissed and taking into account her level of contribution to the dismissal, the Tribunal awarded her € 25,000.00 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007 together with an additional four weeks pay under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 (as amended).