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Jail sentence did not frustrate employment contract – Employer ordered to pay €16,472 for unfair dismissal

Facts
The Claimant was employed as an electrician by the Respondent from March 2003 until his dismissal in September 2016. Following a street fight in Paris in June 2016, while on annual leave, the Claimant was prosecuted and received an 8-month prison sentence in Paris. This was ultimately reduced to 20 weeks in October 2016.

The Claimant received a letter dated 12th September 2016 from the Respondent in which he was informed that his employment would be terminated on 14th September 2016 as he would not be able to fulfil the terms of his contract. The Respondent argued that the case should be viewed as a frustration of the contract, and not as an unfair dismissal, due to the Claimant’s inability to perform his contract arising from the 8-month custodial sentence. The Respondent further submitted that the Claimant did not lodge his claim with the WRC until 15th March 2017 which exceeded the 6 month time limit.

Decision
The Adjudicator referred to case law relied on by both sides but ultimately accepted that the summary dismissal of the Claimant on 14th September deprived him of fair procedures. The Claimant was not given any advance notice, nor was he offered the right of appeal.  The Adjudicator also noted that the Respondent did not reach out to the Claimant or his family to ascertain the relevant facts.

The Adjudicator accepted that the Claimant significantly contributed to his dismissal and noted that any efforts to mitigate his loss commenced in 2017. The Claimant’s award was reduced by 85% due to his contribution to the dismissal and the leisurely attempts to mitigate his loss.
Nonetheless, the Claimant was awarded €16,472 in respect of his unfair dismissal claim and the Respondent was also ordered to pay the complainant €7,228 in respect of his 6-week notice.

Link 
For any queries, please contact Anne O’Connell Solicitors at info@aocsolicitor.ie or +353 1 8601353

31st January 2019

Anne O’Connell
Solicitors
Fitzwilliam Hall
Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2.
www.aocsolicitors.ie


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