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Pressure and stress from multiple investigations held not to be constructive dismissal

Workplace Relations Commission: ADJ-00008115 – An Employee v An Installation Company

Summary of Claimant’s Case
The Claimant was employed as an Accounts Administrator for the Respondent for two years before alleging that her job became so unbearable that she had no alternative but to resign. In the Claimant’s written and oral submissions, she highlighted a period commencing January 2017 where a series of issues arose. These included issues with the company accounts, mediation involving the Sales Manager/Director, issues arising from the apparent precarious financial position the Respondent found themselves in at the time of the hearing and the investigation of complaints raised by colleagues with regard to the Claimant’s behaviour.
An investigation was initiated in relation to the company accounts and a complaint made by a colleague that was received by HR concerning the Claimant. She stated that as a result of all the complaints and investigations, she became stressed and therefore was certified sick by her doctor for a period of ten days.

On her return to work, the Claimant was met by one of the Directors and a Manager who wished to speak with the Claimant to address concerns, which had been raised by the Respondent’s accountants. The Claimant described walking into the room was like a “witch hunt”. As a result, she concluded that no job was worth the hassle and therefore she resigned providing two weeks’ notice.

Summary of Respondent’s Case
Following on from the accounting issues that had been identified, the Respondent stated that further performance issues were raised and brought to the attention of the Claimant at a meeting. After the meeting, the Claimant walked out of the workplace and subsequently raised a grievance. An external HR Consultant dealt with the grievance which was addressed through mediation and ultimately resolved the issue to the Claimant’s satisfaction. However, according to the Respondent, the performance issues remained ongoing to the point that an investigation was initiated. The Claimant was certified sick for ten days after she was notified of the investigation. According to the Respondent’s evidence, the Claimant raised the topic of an exit settlement on her return. She subsequently resigned which was communicated verbally and in writing via email.

Conclusion
The Adjudication Officer, Mr. Ray Flaherty, acknowledged that the working environment was clearly pressurised and stressful but stated that this cannot constitute a situation which supports a claim of constructive dismissal. He further stated that the steps taken by the Respondent in order to resolve matters, which included the involvement of an external HR Consultant and mediation process, influenced him. Therefore, the claim for constructive dismissal was not upheld.

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

Anne O’Connell
Solicitors
1-3 Burton Hall Road
Sandyford
Dublin 18
www.aocsolicitors.ie

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