Case Number: ADJ-00000108. Workplace Relations Commission

Docket NumberADJ-00000108
Hearing Date08 February 2018
Date21 August 2018
CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
PartiesButcher v A Meat Processing Plant
RespondentMeat Processing Plant


Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00000108




Anonymised Parties


Meat Processing Plant


William Maher, Barrister,instructed by Brendan Hyland, Solicitor

John Brennan, Ibec West Regional Director



Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977



Date of Adjudication Hearing: 08/02/2018, 24/04/2018, 25/04/2018 and 20/06/2018

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gaye Cunningham


In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 - 2015,following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.


The Complainant was dismissed on 18th September 2015. The Respondent contends that the Complainant was dismissed for “walking off the line”, which is deemed an offence of gross misconduct, warranting dismissal as provided for in company/union agreements. The Complainant contends that he was dismissed for having made a protected disclosure in relation to his own health and safety.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

Counsel for the Complainant made extensive written and oral submissions over a four day hearing period, summarised as follows:

Introductory Information

The Complainant is an Hungarian national who commenced employment with the Respondent on 21st October 2000. He is a qualified butcher and his net rate of pay was €420 per week. It is contended that in September 2015, the Complainant made a protected disclosure to the Respondent in relation to concerns he had for his health, safety and welfare at work as a result of injuries he sustained in the course of his employment. It is submitted that the Respondent did not wish to deal with these concerns and instead, removed the Complainant from his employment without proper process or true justification. It is submitted that the Complainant was dismissed as a result of having made a protected disclosure within the meaning of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. Furthermore, the Complainant’s dismissal was unfair within the meaning of the Unfair Dismissals Act, as amended. It is submitted that on 9th October 2015, the Complainant obtained an Interim Relief for reinstatement/reengagement in his employment from the Circuit Court. This was subsequently revoked on 29th October 2015. The Judge in the case declared that she was satisfied that the Complainant had made a “protected disclosure” but that she was not satisfied that the protected disclosure was the main reason for the Complainant’s dismissal as he had “walked off the line”. That decision was appealed to the High Court but with the consent of both parties was struck off with no order for costs. It should be noted that the only reason there was agreement to strike out was because the WRC hearing was imminent.

Continuity of Service

Counsel for the Complainant argued that the “Compromise Agreement” signed by the Complainant should be rendered null and void for the reason that he was not aware of the true nature of that agreement. Section 13 of the Act was quoted in support of that argument. Also case law was cited (Hegarty v Agra Ltd UD 822/1984, Hurley v Royal Yacht Club [1997] E.L.R. 225).

The Respondent contends that the Complainant signed a new 12 week contract on his return to work. The Complainant denies that the signature on that contract is his and that he only became aware of that document during the legal proceedings. It is submitted that the Complainant was subject to an ongoing, continuous contract notwithstanding the four week break in his employment.

Protected Disclosure

It is argued that the true reason for the Complainant’s dismissal was because he made a complaint thereby highlighting deficient health and safety practices on the meat boning line. On various dates, and especially on 15th and 18th September 2015, the Complainant protested against injuries he had sustained in the course of his work. He complained to his Supervisor, to the Health and Safety Officer and to the HR Manager and the Operations Manager. By the HR Manager’s admission, the Complainant was considered a “high risk” individual given his previous personal injuries claims brought against the factory. It is argued that the Respondent decided against allowing any fair procedures or due process so as to properly ascertain the facts about the Complainant leaving the line to seek help. Legal submission was made as to the following provided for in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, summarised as follows:

1. It is automatically presumed to be a protected disclosure until the employer proves otherwise

2. There is no minimum service requirement

3. There is no set manner of making a protected disclosure

4. A breach of any person’s health and safety in the workplace is entirely a relevant wrongdoing

5. The maximum compensation for dismissal as a result of having made a protected disclosure is 5 years salary.

It is submitted that the Respondent failed to comply with its own disciplinary procedures or the statutory norms of a disciplinary process as provided for in SI 146 of 2000 in that:

The complainant was not advised that he was being subjected to a disciplinary hearing, was not advised that he faced the prospect of summary dismissal and was not given any right of appeal Frizelle v New Ross Credit Union, unreported 30th July 1997 sets out the basic premises which must be established to support the decision to terminate employment for misconduct.

In summary, it is contended that the Complainant was dismissed unfairly for having made a protected disclosure and that fair procedures were...

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