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Unfair Dismissal Claim Heard by Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission has awarded a man €15,000  in compensation for his unfair dismissal from the Boyne Valley Group.

A supervisor at the Boyne Valley Group´s distribution centre was dismissed for allegations of gross misconduct in May 2015. The man, originally from Drogheda in County Louth, was dismissed due to allegedly making personal remarks to a female colleague about her appearance, her future family plans and her financial affairs.

It was further claimed that the supervisor had slapped the woman´s hand when she had asked to see a mobile phone he was holding at the time, and had made comments to her implying some of the workforce had been employed on the basis of sexual favours rather than merit. The woman´s complaint was supported by several colleagues, her mother and boyfriend.

The Boyne Valley Group accused the man of singling out the woman and harassing them with unwanted attention. This resulted in him publicly to humiliating her on several occasions. An investigation was launched into the allegations, which led to no concrete evidence of a physical assault on the woman. However, the former supervisor was dismissed on the grounds of breaching the company´s policies on bullying and harassment.

The man sought legal counsel and appealed the decision. He made a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal against his former employers. His case was heard recently by the Workplace Relations Commission and, under cross-examination, the man admitted making comments that could be considered insulting. He stated that he had realised his error and that he had tried to offer an apology.  However, the woman had refused it.

The Chair of the Commission heard the details of the case against the former supervisor, afterwards commenting the processes the company had adopted during its investigation into the allegations and conducting the disciplinary procedures and been fair. The Chair also accepted it was not the Commission´s role to impose its own decision when the decision to dismiss was “within the band of reasonableness”.

However, the Chair disagreed that the man´s dismissal was within the band of reasonableness, and said it was a disproportionate response to the situation. The Commission awarded the former supervisor €15,000 compensation for unfair dismissal, adding that, although the comments were unwelcome to the employee in question, the matter should have been dealt with in a more “constructive manner”, and should not have lead to the supervisor’s dismissal.