RECENT CASE HIGHLIGHTS THE NEED FOR DISCIPLINARY PROCESSES TO BE FAIR
In a recent case in the Labour Court of Ibrahim Salah -v- RCI Callcentre (Ireland) Limited the Labour Court overturned a decision of the Workplace Relations Commission and awarded a sum of €20,000.00 to the Applicant who had been dismissed from his job.
The Applicant had had a number of complaints against him but in the course of the investigation two other allegations were put to him namely that he had dropped a substantial number of calls and that he conducted an authorised transaction. Following the disciplinary hearing in which the allegations were upheld his dismissal was confirmed on the 9th of February 2017. He appealed this decision but this was unsuccessful. He brought a claim seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission but the compliant was dismissed by the Adjudicator.
In the Labour Court his appeal against that decision was upheld. The Labour Court referenced the fact that neither of the customers who apparently claimed that the Applicant had been rude to had made a formal complaint. The Chairman Alan Haugh also referred to the fact that that two additional disciplinary allegations were made against him in the course of the investigation and a paragraph from Mary Redmond’s book on Dismissal Law was quoted “heavy emphasis have been laid in recent case law on the duty of an Employer to set out clearly allegations made against an Employee from the outset, with the employer not being permitted to augment the allegations as the investigation progresses. This is because an employee is entitled to be informed at the outset of the complaint(s) being made against him or her in order to ensure he/she has had a meaningful opportunity to prepare and present his/her Defence.
It was determined that Mr Salah was not informed at the outset of the investigation of all the allegations ultimately raised against him. It was also noted that the disciplinary hearing lasted only 20 minutes and the individual who conducted the investigation was able to communicate his decision over just three hours later. It was also determined by the labour Court that a sufficient consideration imposing a lesser sanction was not properly considered. It was also noted that two of the persons involved in the disciplinary process had been involved in previous disciplinary hearing involving Mr Salah.
In conclusion, it is very important for employers to be vigilant to ensure that in circumstances where there are they are conducting a disciplinary hearing against any employee that all of the allegations been made against the employee are set out at the outset of the process and that any person involved in the disciplinary process does not have a conflict of interest by reason of having previously dealt with a complaint/allegation against the person who is the subject matter of the disciplinary process.
If you have any employment law related queries do not hesitate to contact Niall MacCarthy Brendan Dillon on 01 2960666