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Landmark Employment Law cases to be heard before the Supreme Court

Early this month, permission was granted to have two of the most significant recent employment law cases in Ireland to be heard before the Supreme Court.

Zalewski v Adjudication Officer (Glackin) & ors

The first case, Zalewski v Adjudication Officer (Glackin) & ors [2018] IEHC 59, is challenging the constitutional validity of the 2015 Act which established the WRC and its procedures. On behalf of Mr Zalewski, it is argued that the 2015 Act is unconstitutional as there is, for example, no penalty for any person that gives false evidence and the fact that adjudication officers are not required to have any legal qualification or experience.

The Applicant was granted a right to appeal to the Supreme Court from the High Court, leapfrogging the Court of Appeal, as the matter is of “general public importance”. In his case, Mr Zalewksi, was unhappy with the way in which the WRC adjudication officer ran his unfair dismissal case. He submitted that the hearing was adjourned after only ten minutes and with no opportunity for oral evidence or cross-examination was given. The adjudicator then issued a decision in the case despite the fact that it had been adjourned.

The Applicant made a judicial review application to the Court to review the decision of the WRC. The WRC conceded, writing to Mr Zalewski in April 2017 admitting that there had been an administrative error and that the adjudication officer’s decision should have been filed as “adjourned to further hearing” and not as a “decision to issue”. The Applicant argued that despite the Courts decision that the case was to be sent back to the WRC for rehearing by a different adjudication officer, a forum that permitted such an error should be subject to constitutional challenge.

The preliminary issue to be heard by the Supreme Court is whether Mr Zalewski has Locus Standi to take the case. This issue is sure to receive a good hearing in the Supreme Court. It is worth noting that it may take up to 3 years before we have a final and substantive decision on all matters in this case, however, it is definitely a case to follow.

Nano Nagle School v. Marie Daly
The second is the case of Nano Nagle School v. Marie Daly [2018] IECA 11, in which the appellant Ms Daly sought to return to her jon at the Nano Nagle school following an accident which impaired her function in the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Role. The applicant took a claim against the school alleging that it had failed to provide reasonable accommodation to allow her to return to work. The Case has been heard from the Equality Tribunal all the way to the High Court, with the Labour Court and Hugh Court finding for the appellant, however, the Schools’ appeal to the Court of Appeal was successful. The ultimate decision in this case will be pivotal, as it will shape the obligations that are expected for employers when providing reasonable accommodation to an employee.

31st July 2018

Anne O’Connell
1-3 Burton Hall Road
Dublin 18

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