September 2017 – Employee Payout Claims

Failure by employer to investigate complaints led to successful constructive dismissal award of €29,000

During the case, the claimant referred to several incidents of mistreatment that had occurred during her employment such as returning from annual leave to find that her desk had been emptied and not receiving her annual bonus. The employee subsequently resigned from her post after being told that she was being moved to a different unit in the business, which was effectively a demotion. In upholding the claim of constructive dismissal, the Adjudication Officer held that the employer’s failure to investigate the claimant’s persistent complaints amounted to a 

This case serves as a reminder to employer’s to ensure that they follow up on employee complaints, regardless of whether these are given verbally or in writing.  It is important that a company has a grievance procedure in place that sets out how complaints are managed. In the first instance, many companies (in line with their grievance procedure) will try and deal with the complaint at an informal level e.g. mediation. However, if the employee requests an investigation to take place or the informal approach has not been successful then the matter should be referred to the formal procedure. In addition, it is also advisable that managers receive training on how to handle employee complaints to ensure these are dealt with correctly.

A Blackrock gym has to pay €3,000 to an ex-worker who didn’t take tea breaks

A fitness Firm has been ordered to pay more than €3,000 to a former employee who didn’t take a work break for months – because “she didn’t want to rock the boat”.

In a recent Labour Court ruling, the Blackrock-based gym was ordered to pay €3,250 an employee who told the court that she rarely received a rest break during her eight months of employment there.  The employee told the court that in order to eat lunch, they had to step away from the reception desk and into a storage area but was regularly interrupted when they did this.

€5,000 for cleaner dismissed over unpaid chocolate bar

A firm here has been left counting the cost after firing a cleaner who failed to pay for a bar of chocolate at a staff canteen. This follows the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ordering a facility services provider to pay the cleaner €5,600 after finding that the company unfairly dismissed the worker.

The employee was summarily dismissed on January 26 of last year after failing to initially pay for the bar of chocolate at the staff canteen in October 2015.  The canteen has a cashless system and workers purchase items with a card. The employee took a bar of chocolate without initially paying as he had only 35c left on his card.

The man sat down to have his break and it was only after he was approached by a canteen employee over not paying for the bar of chocolate that he got a colleague’s card and paid for the chocolate bar. No parties are named in the case and in her ruling, WRC Adjudication Officer, Aideen Collard found that the firm’s Sector Director’s decision to dismiss the worker at the disciplinary hearing to be a fundamental procedural flaw “and indicative of predetermination without taking any time to consider his responses or whether a lesser form of disciplinary action would be appropriate”.

Counsel on behalf of the worker submitted that the company’s dismissal “was totally disproportionate to the alleged conduct in question”.  It was accepted that he had only taken a bar of chocolate which he had paid for before leaving the canteen, and this could not amount to theft.  In his evidence to the WRC, the worker confirmed that he had no intention of stealing the chocolate bar, having sat near the tills and had paid for it before leaving the vicinity.

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