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Employee awarded €27,000 for dismissal based on victimisation

On 27th November an employee was awarded €27,000 for dismissal based on victimisation and was also compensated €5,000 for harassment she was subjected to in her employment while she was pregnant.

Facts

The Claimant, Dympna Boyce notified the CEO of Ras Medical Limited (the Respondent), that she was pregnant on the 24th May 2017.

Following the notification of her pregnancy the Claimant found Mr. Mc’s (CEO of the Respondent) attitude change towards her. He became rude and dismissive making comments such as “dropping the ball” and “mistakes were being made”. These comments were found to be in relation to the Claimant’s pregnancy. Mr. Mc also made remarks regarding “bad vibes” in the office and “a certain person having an identity crisis”.  Following this, the Claimant made a complaint to Dr. S, clinical director of the Respondent company regarding Mr. Mcs comments.

In giving evidence the Respondent stated that these comments were not in relation to the Claimant, however the adjudicator dismissed this defence stating it had no credibility.

On 4th July the Claimant was called to a meeting with Mr. Mc. Here Mr. Mc stated he “heard she was having problems” and he “did not know if there was any way of resolving things.”

The Claimant then received a termination letter from the Respondent on the 18th July which was dated 4th July which outlined the reasons for her termination. The issues highlighted in this letter leading to her termination occurred two and three weeks after the Claimant notified the Respondent that she was pregnant.

At the hearing various witnesses gave evidence on behalf of the respondent in relation to poor working performance with the Claimant, in an attempt to further justify the Respondent’s decision in dismissing the Claimant. They stated that “no one could work with her” and “mistakes were an everyday occurrence with her”.

Decision

The adjudicator found the Claimant’s dismissal was victimisation.

In addition to the reasoning of the Claimant’s dismissal, the adjudicator found the testimony given by the witnesses was not substantiated with by any hard facts or evidence. Despite the evidence suggesting the Claimant was incompetent she was still intrusted with highly prestigious work that was of huge significance and esteem for the Respondent company.

The adjudicator also noted that if the Claimant did have performance issues that these issues should have been be brought to her attention before her dismissal. The adjudicator found that Mr. Mc dismissed the Claimant under the guise of “performance issues” due to the fact he was very annoyed at a complaint being levelled against him.

Pregnant women are to be afforded special protection in relation to adverse treatment, in particular dismissal. Equally the burden is on the employer in proving on cogent and credible evidence that the dismissal was not in relation to the pregnancy of the employee.

The adjudicator also found the Claimant was subject to harassment by her conditions of employment. Relating to comments made to her by Mr. Mc and the effect these comments had on the Claimant.

Due to the actions of the Respondent the Claimant was awarded €27,000 for dismissal due to victimisation and €5,000 in compensation for the effects of the harassment.

The adjudicator also ordered the Respondent to conduct a review of its procedures in relation to its employment policies to comply with the Employment Equality Acts.

Link

19th December 2018

 Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall

Fitzwilliam Place

Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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