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Man dismissed for sexual harassment awarded €6,500 after dismissal process was held to be ‘flawed’

Workplace Relations Commission: ADJ-00009398 – Store Manager v Restaurant Chain

The restaurant chain summarily sacked a store manager for gross misconduct after concluding that he engaged in sexual harassment. The General Manager of the Respondent received a complaint from an employee that the Claimant had threatened to cut her hours of work and had been going to her residence uninvited and causing a scene. She admitted to being in a relationship with the Claimant but broke it off when she discovered that he was married with a family. An external HR professional was appointed to investigate the matter. It transpired that there were other employees and ex-employees who alleged that the Claimant sexually harassed them. The Claimant confirmed to the investigator that he had offered accommodation to employees in order to have sex with them.

The Respondent has a zero-tolerance policy and held sexual harassment to be an act of gross misconduct. The Company policy states: “where an employee is involved in gross misconduct, the company may determine that the employee should be dismissed without reference to any of the stages of the disciplinary process.”

The Claimant sued for unfair dismissal, alleging that the allegations made against him concerning the employee fell short of sexual harassment. The Claimant admitted to a relationship with the employee and that it had come to an unhappy end. The Claimant submitted that the employee’s complaint was never put to him in order to defend himself. It was further submitted that the investigator asked him twice to resign, before the General Manager summarily dismissed him. The Claimant also stated that he was never given the reasons for his dismissal and therefore he never appealed the decision.

The Adjudication Officer, Mr. Eugene Hanly, found that the man’s conduct amounted to sexual harassment, but the handling of the process was procedurally flawed which rendered the dismissal unfair. The Claimant was awarded €6,500.

For any queries, please contact Anne O’Connell Solicitors at info@aocsolicitor.ie or +353 1 2903580
June 2018

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

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