Case Number: ADJ-00007021. Workplace Relations Commission

Judgment Date01 July 2018
Year2018
Docket NumberADJ-00007021
CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
PartiesA General Manager v A Car Dealership

ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION

Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00007021

Parties:

Complainant

Respondent

Anonymised Parties

A General Manager

A Car Dealership

Complaint(s):

Act

Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

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

CA-00009538-001

3/Feb/20173/Feb/2017

Dates of Adjudication Hearing: 26/09/2017, 23/03/2018 and 8/May/2018

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Penelope McGrath

Procedure:

In accordance with Section 8 (1)(a) of the Unfair Dismissals Act of 1977 (as substituted) and where a claim for redress under the Unfair Dismissals legislation is being made the claim is referred to the Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission who in turn refers any such claim to an Adjudication Officer, so appointed, for the purpose of having the said claim heard in the manner prescribed in Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and in particular the said Adjudication Officer is obliged to make all relevant inquiries into the complaint.

The Adjudication Officer will additionally and where appropriate hear all relevant oral evidence of the parties and their witnesses and will take into account any and all documentary or other evidence which may be tendered in the course of the hearing.

In particular, and in circumstances where the Complainant herein has referred a complaint of having been unfairly dismissed form his place of employment wherein he had worked for in excess of one year and where the Workplace Relations Complaint Form (dated the 3rd of February 2017) issued within six months of his dismissal (October 2016), I am satisfied that I have jurisdiction to hear the within matter.

This matter comes before the Adjudication Services on foot of a workplace relations complaint form dated the 3rd of February 2017 and has been initiated in consequence of the Respondent Employer’s decision to terminate the Complainant’s employment by reason of actions which were deemed to amount to gross misconduct. The employment was terminated by letter dated the 18th of October 2016 and the decision was reached after an investigative and disciplinary process had been completed.

The fact of dismissal is not in dispute, and the Respondent accepts that the burden of proof rests with it to demonstrate that it has acted fairly, reasonably and with justification in all the circumstances, per

Section 6(1) of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977:

Subject to the provisions of this section the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act to be an Unfair Dismissal unless having regard to all the circumstances there were substantial grounds justifying the dismissal”

Based on the evidence I heard, I would determine that the Complainant’s case is twofold. The Complainant says aspects of the Investigative and disciplinary process were unsatisfactory and unfair. In addition, the Complainant says that the decision to dismiss was disproportionate and heavy handed in light of the issues that had been raised and investigated.

Both parties opened up this case by way of written and oral submissions. These have been comprehensively considered by me as has the significant amount of oral evidence I have heard and which was tested through cross-examination.

Background:

The Complainant was described as a General Manager with the Respondent Car dealership. The Complainant was approached by a member of staff who wanted to secure a commercial vehicle for her Husband. The Complainant assisted in that process.

Subsequently the paperwork in relation to that transaction was called into question by the third-party finance company. The Complainant never denied that he had prepared the relevant paperwork but was of the view that what he done was non-contentious, did not result in any loss, and simply operated to facilitate an employee.

The Employer took an immediate and firm view that the transaction was irregular and questionable. The Employer conducted an internal Investigative and Disciplinary process which resulted, per letter of the 18th October 2016 to the Complainant, in his immediate dismissal for actions constituting gross misconduct.

There was an Appeal process which reduced the sanction imposed to that of a demotion with associated reduction in pay. This was rejected by the Complainant.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

The Complainant gave his own evidence which was tested by the Respondent representative. The Complainant accepted that he had created a document knowing that the content thereof was incorrect. The Complainant believed his actions certainly might have warranted a sanction but not a dismissal. The Complainant submitted a comprehensive booklet of documents which were opened to me in the course of the three days of hearing. The Complainant made the case that the Investigation and Disciplinary processes were unfair and chaotic. The Complainant’s representative suggested that the Respondent has tried in the Adjudication process to shore up it’s case in an attempt to deflect from how inadequate the procedures had been.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The Respondent’s case is that the Complainant was fired for manufacturing a deliberate deception.

Section 6(4) of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 reads:

Without prejudice to the generality of Subsection (1) of this section the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed for the purposes of the Act not to be an Unfair Dismissal if it results wholly or mainly from one or more of the following:

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