Worker gets 10 verbal Warnings and is awarded €5,000

This case is very interesting as it concerned an employee who contributed to his own dismissal but because the dismissal was inconsistent with the “principles of natural justice and fair procedures” the employee was awarded €5,000 in compensation. So what lessons can be learned here?

The case before the Court concerns the worker's appeal of a Rights Commissioner's Recommendation. The dispute relates specifically to Mr Shanahan’s claim that he was unfairly dismissed and claimed for compensation as a result. Mr Shanahan commenced his employment at Suits Distributors on 8th December 2007 and was fired on September 6th 2008 due to “good & justifiable reasons” according to the employer. The employee alleges that he was dismissed from his employment without prior warning or fair procedure. The matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 29th April, 2010, the Rights Commissioner issued his Recommendation as follows:  "Having carefully considered the submissions made by the parties I am not satisfied that the Claimant's employment was terminated in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice and fair procedure. I therefore find his complaint to be well-founded. However, while I find that the Claimant's contract was unfairly terminated, I also find by his behaviour to management and staff he contributed significantly towards the termination of his employment. Having considered all of the circumstances of this case I recommend that he be paid compensation of €5,000".  On the 4th June, 2010, the matter was appealed to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969.

The Labour Court had to carefully consider both submissions from each party to determine the outcome. The Employer had told the Court that Mr Shanahan was an excellent employee and when problems started and warnings were issued an interpreter was always at hand to explain them to the employee. The Labour Court agreed that the employee contributed to his own dismissal due to his “aggressive behaviour” and because of this, other staff members were afraid of him. However, the Court found that the employee was dismissed unfairly as the employer didn’t carry out a disciplinary process that complied with the “principles of natural justice and fair procedures”. The Court upheld the Rights Commissioner decision and awarded Mr Shanahan €5,000 in compensation.

The Labour Court held that the procedure adopted by the employer was unfair given the lack of consultation or discussion and in the absence of any procedure they determined that the claimant was entitled to succeed in this claim. They upheld the award of €5,000 compensation for this claim.

Employers should seek advice from Peninsula Business Services if they are faced with a potential employee issue. Please phone the 24 Hour Advice Service on 01 8555050 and one of our experienced advisors will be happy to assist.

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