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Labour Court Finds In Favour Of Employee Who Resigned Under Threat Of Investigation

Boylesports Unlimited Company -and- Mr Patrick Markey UDD/19/190 

Facts: The Complainant/ Appellant in this matter Mr Patrick Markey appealed the decision of the Workplace Relation Commission (WRC), given under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2015.

The Complainant, Mr Markey, was employed as an IT Helpdesk Administrator from 18th August 2015. He reportedly resigned his position by email in November 2017, however he submitted that he was coerced into submitting his resignation and was therefore unfairly dismissed on that date.

On the 28th November, two concerns were addressed by Mr Marron his line manager in relation to claims for expenses for on-call work. Firstly, a claim for €100.00 which was dealt with and a further claim for reimbursement for on-call texts. The total value of the claimed payments was €560.00. Texts while on-call are not reimbursed and the Complainant stated that it was a genuine mistake and would repay the money to the Respondent.

The Complainant stated that Mr Marron left to consult with Mr Convey the Service Desk Manager and on his return stated that he had two choices, resign or face an investigation. The Complainant also stated that he was told to print out his resignation there and then. It was the Respondent’s evidence that this did not happen and this was supported by evidence from Mr Convey. The Respondent submitted that Mr Markey was told that an investigation would have to be commenced in relation to the overpayment and Mr Markeys’ immediate response was to resign.  

Later that night, when Mr Marron called to his house to collect his IT equipment the Complainant stated that he was hasty in his resignation and wished to reconsider. The Complainant further claimed that the Respondent said he had made the right decision and he would get a job easily in IT

A member of the Respondent’s HR Department spoke with Mr Markey the next morning and it was their evidence that Mr Markey stated that he had f***ed up, continually stating that he was finished with Boylesports and at no point said he wished to reconsider his resignation. However, it was conceded by the Respondent that he was not asked to reconsider.

The divergence in evidence was noted by the Labour Court.

The Court acknowledged the Complainant’s lack of experience with HR and such matters, this being his first real job. The Court further considered the actions of the Respondent on the 28th and 29th November, in being too hasty to accept his resignation, not considering his decision to reverse it and not offering the Complainant the opportunity to submit instead to a disciplinary investigation.  

Decision

The Court held that the above was tantamount to unfair dismissal, however the Complainant had contributed to his dismissal.

The Complainant also failed to mitigate his losses and submitted that he was unemployed for two years, yet he was unable to produce any documentary evidence of his efforts to seek other employment. Considering this, the Court awarded compensation of three months gross pay by way of loss of earnings.

Takeaway for the Employers

Employers should ensure that any resignation especially hasty ones and indeed, any hesitation in a person’s decision to resign, is properly considered and addressed by the Company.  Failure to do so may be, as above, tantamount to unfair dismissal. However, failure to provide evidence of mitigation of loss will reduce any award.

Link https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2021/january/rpd211.html

Authors – Anne O’Connell & Ethna Dillon

30th January 2021

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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