Case Number: ADJ-00002854. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00002854
Date26 January 2016
PartiesEmployer v Employee

Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00002854

Complaint for Resolution:


Complaint 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: 06/09/2016


In accordance with Section 8(1B) of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, 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.

Attendance at Hearing:

An Office Receptionist V A Distribution Company

Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:

This is a claim for Constructive Dismissal. The complainant resigned her position by email on 12 February, 2016.

The complainant commenced work on a full time basis as a Support Office Receptionist with the respondent on 1 December, 2014. She had completed a Diploma in Office Management in 2014. The complainant told the hearing that she liked her job and was friendly with Mr A, the accountant and Ms OM (the office manager).

The complainant submitted that she had attended the Office Christmas Party on January 16, 2016. She learned from a colleague that there were about to be changes at “Support Office “level. The following Monday , the Managing Director of the company , Mr MD, announced at a staff meeting that Ms OM had accepted promotion to Office Manager .

The next day, the complainant accepted a lift to work from Mr A when her car was out of use .They discussed the staff meeting and announcement of the new Office Manager. The complainant told that hearing that Mr A started the discussion and that she had joked “ there goes my progression “ When they got to work the complainant submitted that “ banter “ transpired between them both and Ms OM .It was the complainants position that Ms OM was displeased by this approach . The complainant contended that she tried to wish Ms Om well and she was not annoyed that she had not got the position.

The complainant subsequently approached Ms OM where she learned that Mr A had shared the details of the “ car conversation “ with Ms OM and this caused her to be upset .There was a “clear the air “ meeting between the complainant , Ms OM and Mr A , which the complainant assumed was successful .

On the following Friday, January 22, the Financial Controller, Mr FC called a meeting of the trio to discuss the Office changes and he mentioned that “the office had a frosty atmosphere following the meeting the previous Monday “and sought some clarification on what triggered this? The complainant submitted that Mr FC then went on to explain the rationale for Ms OMs appointment and the complainant said she accepted this, wished there had better communication and told him that she was getting on with her work .

The complainant submitted that she met with the Managing Director on the following Monday, where she requested whether she could do her full hours over three days to facilitate her attendance on a college course .She was refused on the basis that a five day presence was deemed necessary for work .He made reference to the recent unease amongst the trio and asked if everything was ok? The complainant stated that she was informed that she was lucky a complaint hadn’t been made.

On the following Friday, January 29, the Operations Manager, Mr OM 1 apologised to both Ms OM and the complainant for the” poor manner in which the office moves and promotions were communicated “. The complainant denied that she had been unhelpful at work or had allowed the phones to ring out .She explained that there were new phone lines and there were a few mistakes on the sheet.

On Friday 12 February, Mr OM 1 approached the complainant and asked her to attend a review meeting with him .He said that this was something he did with everyone and advised the complainant to bring a witness .He suggested that Ms OM might act as that witness .The complainant told the hearing that she had not had a review with the company previously

The complainant attended the meeting later that day and responded to two review questions before being interrupted by Mr OM who informed her that the company was not happy with her performance over the last four weeks and had decided to terminate her employment by issuing three months notice and offered any help she needed with CV preparation, references and time off. The complainant submitted that Mr OM was unwilling to discuss the matter further but offered to meet the following week. He also suggested that it may be better for future employment if she handed in her notice “there and then”.

The complainant recalled that she was shocked and understood that she had been ambushed .She understood that she had found herself in a disciplinary meeting .She submitted that she told Mr OM1 that she was considering offering her resignation ,and he stated that he would accept it . Ms OM left the meeting on the instruction of Mr OM.

She went home and submitted her resignation by email giving two weeks’ notice. Mr OM rang her later that evening and confirmed acceptance of the resignation .When she sought the three month notice period, she was informed that it would not be paid as she had resigned.

The complainant had not worked as an employee since she left the respondent; however, she gave evidence on income generated from July 2016 in terms of self- employment and mitigation.

Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:

The respondent disputed the claim for dismissal .The respondent is a sales based company with 138 employees, six of whom were based in the Office .The complainant was recruited via a recruitment agency as a locum receptionist in the first instance ,followed by a permanent appointment 9 months later .

In January 2016, the company decided to introduce a new role to the office. In preparation, the Financial Controller was to move office location upstairs to accommodate the new appointment

In addition, the company made an appointment to Office Manager. Ms OM, who had previously been credit controller, was appointed by the Managing Director.

The respondent submitted that Ms OM, Mr A and the complainant fell out following this appointment. The respondent described the fall out as:

“ This fall out continued for a couple of days and led to poor communication ,was affecting work levels and (the complainants ) relationship broke down with her office colleagues “

Mr FC, on behalf of the company met with the trio on January 21, where he asked them to restore “co –operative “working relations at the Office.

On January 26, the Managing Director of the company received a call from the complainant’s mother where she informed him that she was angry that her daughter was coming home from work upset.

Mr OM1 confirmed that he had met with the complainant and Ms OM later that week in a bid to move forward and both members of staff agreed to “support each other in the period ahead.”

On February 2nd, The Managing Director vetoed a request from the complainant to work part time to support attendance on a college course .The respondent told the hearing that the complainant’s behaviour changed after this and she distanced herself from everyone and adopted a “work to rule” approach. Ms OM held a meeting with the complainant and the new appointee to outline each person’s role.

Mr OM submitted that he phoned the complainant at 11 am on February 12 to invite her to an investigative meeting at 3pm that day in relation to her behaviour at work. He offered her the opportunity to bring a witness .She agreed to his suggestion of having Ms OM present as the witness. He advised the complainant that he had been charged with undertaking an investigation into her recent behaviour and where it seemed that her working relationship seemed to have broken down with the team. The complainant told him immediately that she had made arrangements to secure another job and planned to leave in May. Mr OM confirmed that he would...

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