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Employer pays €15,000.00 for not following the company procedures

Facts: In January 2017, the Complainant was employed as a House Care Assistant in the nursing home operated by the Respondent. On 10th March 2018, the Respondent received a report alleging mistreatment of vulnerable patient by the Complainant, following which, the Complainant was suspended with pay. Thereafter, meetings were scheduled to hear the matter. At the meeting of 16th March, the Respondent was represented by two Directors, while the Complainant was unaccompanied. At the said meeting the Complainant strongly denied the allegations and stated that she may have raised her voice but rejected the allegation that she had struck the patient. The said meeting was adjourned for consideration of evidence. Again in the meeting on 22nd March, the Respondent was represented by two Directors and the Complainant did not have any representation. At the said meeting, the Managing Director stated that both he and his fellow director, after considering the evidence, had decided that the Complainant’s act amounted to gross misconduct and dismissed her. The Complainant, as an alternative, signed a handwritten resignation letter.

Findings: The evidence provided by the Directors representing the Respondent proved that they had already made the decision of dismissing the Complainant, prior to the 22nd March meeting. Considering the Respondent’s position that the Complainant resigned and hence there was no dismissal, the Adjudicating Officer (“AO”) observed that during the 22nd March meeting, the Complainant was presented with the options of either resigning or being dismissed. The AO was satisfied that the Complainant was dismissed.

While considering the process of dismissal, the AO observed that the Respondent had failed to investigate the complaint effectively. The Respondent also failed to interview the Complainant or other staff member who had interaction with the resident. The Respondent only informed the Complainant at the outset of the 13th March meeting that it was a Disciplinary meeting. Thus the AO found the Respondent in breach of its own procedures.

The AO held that the Complainant was unfairly dismissed and ordered the respondent to pay a compensation of €15,000.00.

Note to Employers: This decision illustrates the importance of carrying out proper investigation before a disciplinary process and the implications of failing to follow proper procedures for such disciplinary proceeding.

https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/october/adj-00016081.html

2nd October 2019

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall

Fitzwilliam Place

Dublin 2.

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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