Case Number: ADJ-00028330. Workplace Relations Commission

Court:Workplace Relations Commission
Docket Number:ADJ-00028330
Procedure:

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.

Background:

The Complainant was employed as a Warehouse Operative with the Respondent who runs a freight business. The employment commenced on 25/01/2016 and following a serious complaint from one of the Respondent’s main customers about the Complainant he was dismissed on 05/05/2020. His gross monthly salary was €3,000.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

The Complainant worked for the Respondent for over four years and he was suspended with pay following a complaint from a customer representative (Ms A). This was the first complaint about him during his employment with the Respondent. He reported the problems with this customer to the warehouse manager following an interaction, but the manager did not do anything. While on suspension he was invited at short notice to an investigation meeting 05/05/2020 and was dismissed at the end of that meeting.

The complainant was unhappy with the investigation as he was not allowed to produce e mails which would show that the same customer representative (Ms A) had duplicated many mistakes. These mistakes made his work almost impossible as he could not dispatch orders until they were rectified by Ms A. He was frustrated at the lack of support from the Warehouse manager in dealing with these issues. The Complainant outlined that he was a diligent worker and had been involved in special projects such as preparing quarterly inventories and ensuring that all parts were measured, weighed and serial numbers checked.

In relation to the interaction with Ms A the Complainant was surprised to get a call from her as she did not have his work mobile number. The Complainant queried why she did not contact his supervisor in relation to the problem. He was very busy on the day and as he was not an IT person Ms A should not have contacted him to sort out the system errors. It is the Complainant’s view that the day he received the telephone call from Ms A was his “unlucky day”. He does not see what offense was caused and therefore fails to see how he could be dismissed after four and a half years of impeccable work. If there was a risk in losing the customers business, it was not made clear to him. The Complainant submits that there is a long-standing relationship between the customer and the company and that continues to this day.

It is the Complainant’s position that the Respondent used the complaint as an opportunity to dismiss him. The Complainant also submits that the process used by the Respondent was flawed and was treated “unfairly and unilaterally judged”. The Complaint outlined his particular concerns in relation to the process:

a) The Respondent’s CEO and Sales Director met the Complainant on 28/04/20 and informed him that he would be suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation in relation to the incident with the customer on 28/04/20

b) The Respondent’s CEO and a fellow Director (Ms B) conducted the investigation.

c) The Respondent’s CEO and a fellow Director (Ms B) met with the Complainant on 05/05/20 as part of the investigation and at that meeting issued him with a dismissal decision.

d) The Complainant was given very short notice of the meeting which was sent by registered post and collected on the morning of the proposed meeting. He was unable to organise a colleague to attend due to the short notice and travel restrictions then in place

e) The Complainant did not have any opportunity to call witnesses

f) The Complainant was not allowed any opportunity to meet and question witnesses at the meeting on 05/05/20

g) The Complainant submits that he refutes that he was aggressive and angry at the meeting.

The Complainant submits that the Respondent treated him in a manner which was not fair and notes that the speed with which the company dismissed him confirms that they used a “long-awaited opportunity to get rid of the ‘uncomfortable employee’”.

The Complainant has obtained occasional work for some weeks following his dismissal and later obtained more regular employment. Details were provided at the hearing. The Complainant is seeking financial compensation for the financial loss suffered as a result of his dismissal.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The Respondent is a long-established independent freight express company. Their success is due to ensuring that their customers’ expectations are met. They provide a seamless freight management services to customers both at home and overseas. The Respondent places significant emphasis on the fact that they...

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