Case Number: ADJ-00003959. Workplace Relations Commission

Docket NumberADJ-00003959
Hearing Date26 May 2017
Date01 May 2018
CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
PartiesA Chicken Catcher v A Poultry Contractor
RespondentA Poultry Contractor


Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00003959




Anonymised Parties

A Chicken Catcher

A Poultry Contractor



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: 26/May/2017

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gerry Rooney


In accordance 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, a Lithuanian national, was employed as a Chicken Catcher from 2nd June 2008. on 1st March 2016 the business was subject to a transfer of ownership where the Complainant’s terms and conditions were continued, and an updated contract of employment was issued to the Complainant. The Complainant submitted that he was unfairly dismissed on 7th June 2016 following what he maintained were unfounded complaints from clients of the Respondent, and where he contended he was not afforded fair procedures regarding his dismissal. The Complainant submitted that his dismissal was due the Complainant making a personal injury claim after a fall at a client site on 29th November 2014. The Complainant was paid €492.28 per week at the time of his dismissal.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The Respondent acknowledged that the Complainant was employed with them since June 2008 and that the company transferred ownership on 21 January 2016. The Respondent advised that it operates as a poultry contractor to a meat processor. The Respondent acknowledged the date of dismissal was 7th June 2016, but refuted that it unfairly dismissed the Complainant.

The Respondent advised that in accordance with its contract with the meat processor it provides workers to different farms to catch chickens, where they are loaded into crates to be processed by the meat processor.

The Respondent submitted that during May 2016 a number of farmers where the Complainant attended to catch chickens wrote to the Respondent stating they did not want the Complainant on the premises. The Respondent denied that the reason for it dismissing the Complainant was due to his personal injury claim.

The Respondent submitted that it had received a number of correspondences from farmers stating they did not want the complainant on the premises for varying reasons. These reasons stated that the complainant had made a personal injury claim against a farmer, that they just did not want the complainant attending the site, and two complaints inferring that the Complainant had departed from the accepted loading procedures by turning the lights on full in the chicken house, placing a plastic fertiliser over his arm and walked down the house flapping the bag which scattered the birds, and where over 50 birds were smothered and this amounted to financial costs as a result of reckless behaviour, and a complaint that the Complainant refused to follow instructions.

The Respondent submitted that it suspended the Complainant on 27 May 2016 on full pay to allow it to investigate the allegations of the complaints, and where it advised the Complainant in writing of the concerns related to the Complainant failing to follow farmers instructions, failure to respect the welfare of poultry, and for touching poultry house controls without permission. The Respondent also advised that he liaised with the meat manufacture to lobby on behalf of the Complainant but that the meat manufacture advised they were unable to assist.

The Respondent submitted that he invited the Complainant to a meeting on 3rd June 2016 to discuss the situation and put forward some alternatives and where the Complainant was advised he could be accompanied at this meeting. The Respondent also had a person attend who could translate from English to Lithuanian at this meeting. The Respondent maintained that at this meeting it advised the Complainant that farmers had brought several complaints against him and as a result they had demanded that the Complainant no longer work at their farms. It advised the first complaint was received on 12th May 2016 and complaints started to come in on 23rd May 2016. The Respondent also advised the Complainant that they were advised by farmers, that because of a personal injury claim was filed against a fellow former the farmers no longer no longer wanted to work with the Complainant. The Respondent advised the Complainant that they were not happy about this, they had fought in behalf of the Complainant to have him back to work on the sites, but the farmers had refused. The Respondent submitted that it advised the Complainant that he was informed that as they could no longer find work for him they may be forced to terminate his employment. The Respondent also maintained that they asked the Complainant if he had any suggestions regarding alternative employment that they can consider but that the complainant provided no alternatives. The Respondent advised that it took some time itself to consider alternatives but as a could find no alternatives they wrote to the Complainant on 7th June 2016 informing him that his employment would be terminated. The Respondent submitted that the Complainant was paid his notice and all entitlements which included four weeks wages in lieu of notice and nine days outstanding holiday pay. The Respondent advised the Complainant that he had the right to appeal the decision and an appeal was held on 17th June 2016, but that having considered matters on 22 June 2016 the appeal officer theory appointed by the Respondent upheld its decision to dismiss the Complainant.

The Respondent submitted that under section 6 (6) of the Unfair Dismissals Act it was for the employer to show that the dismissal resulted wholly or mainly from one or more the matters specified in subsection 6(4) of the Act, or other substantial grounds justifying the dismissal. The Respondent maintained that it in accordance with section 6 of the Act there were substantial grounds justifying the dismissal, and this was due to a third party placing pressure on the Respondent. The Respondent referred to the case of Henderson V Connect (South Tyneside) Ltd 2010 IRLR 466 where the test of reasonableness of a decision to dismiss, as stated by the Tribunal, is where the employer had done everything that it reasonably could do to avoid or mitigate the injustice brought about by the stance of their client, most obviously by a) trying to get the client to change its mind and if that was impossible b) trying to find alternative work for the employee but had failed. The Respondent therefore maintained that any eventual dismissal based on these circumstances would not be unfair. The Respondent submitted that in this case, even though the outcome for the employee might be unjust, that injustice is not the result of any unreasonableness on the...

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