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WRC awards €8,000.00 for Disproportionate Disciplinary Sanction

Facts
The Complainant was employed as a driver by the Respondent Company from 7th January 2008 to 29th November 2017.  On the 23rd October 2017, the Complainant was called out to assist a Driver Trainer and a new employee with deliveries. A complaint under the Company Grievance Procedure, was lodged the next day, wherein the Driver Trainer alleged that the Complainant became aggressive and had thrown a padlock at him. The Complainant also lodged a complaint alleging that the Driver Trainer had gone against normal working procedures when he had to  drive from the north side of the city to the city centre to collect four drops, given that the Driver Trainer was already going in that same direction.

An investigation was carried out by the Respondent Company immediately after the submission of the complaints. The Investigation was conducted by a Manager whom the Complainant had made a complaint against the previous year, which had been upheld.

The Complainant was invited to an investigation meeting on  13th November 2017, and confirmed that he had become frustrated at the situation and had thrown the padlock, but stated he threw it into the truck as opposed to at the Trainer Driver as alleged. The outcome of the investigation on 22nd November 2017, was the suspension of the Complainant  on full pay pending the outcome of a Disciplinary Hearing.
The Disciplinary Hearing took place a week later with the result being a decision to dismiss on the grounds that the Complainant’s actions constituted gross misconduct. The Complainant availed of the right of appeal stating that the sanction was excessive and a more independent Investigator should have been appointed to the investigation. However, the decision to dismiss the Complainant was upheld.

Findings
The Adjudicator made a number of observations in her findings while acknowledging that the Complainant had been employed with the Respondent for up to 10 years and had never been the subject of any complaint or disciplinary measure.  

Given that “there has been a history with the manager” the Adjudicator noted that it would have been more prudent of the Respondent to appoint another investigator to the matter. However, no objection had been raised by the Complainant before or during the Investigation stage. The disciplinary notes from the Hearing on  29th November 2017, did refer that the Complainant apologised to the Trainer (this was not accepted by him) and there had been no intention to injure the Trainer. Both Parties also confirmed that the Trainer was not hit in the incident.

The Adjudicator found that the Respondent had conducted the Disciplinary and Appeal process in accordance with S.I. 146/2000, with the exception of the person that had been appointed as Investigator. It was also found that the Claimant had contributed to his dismissal by his conduct.


However, the Adjudicator directed the payment of €8,000.00 compensation to the Complainant. The Adjudicator concluded that a lesser disciplinary sanction may have been more appropriate given all of the circumstances and the fact that this was the first incident during the Complainant’s ten years of employment with the Respondent.

Link

30th January 2019

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

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