Employer Successfully Defends Constructive Dismissal Claim

Author:Mr Bryan Dunne, Brian Buggy, John Dunne and Paul Glenfield

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled in favour of an employer in a highly-publicised case in which a former employee who resigned from her position, took a claim of constructive dismissal against the company. In the recent determination of Barry v Quinn Insurance Limited UD1775/2010, the Tribunal found that the former employee did not act reasonably in resigning as she did not appeal the outcome of an investigation of a bullying and harassment complaint brought by her.

Claimant reassigned

The claimant alleged that within weeks of commencing her employment as a claims co-ordinator in March 2008, she encountered difficulties with one of her team members who was employed as a regional claims controller. The claimant outlined that the team member acted in a harsh and ignorant manner towards her, which left her feeling isolated and led to panic attacks. When the claimant reported the matter to Human Resources (HR), she felt they did not treat her complaint seriously. However, the claimant was reassigned to a new section in March 2009. In April 2009, the claimant attended her doctor who certified her as medically unfit for work. She then notified HR of the reasons for her absence and the issues she had encountered in the workplace. HR offered her medical assistance and advised that the matter could be formally investigated and dealt with under the company's grievance procedure. Over a protracted period, while the claimant remained on sick leave, formal grievances were made in writing and an investigation was carried out. Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the claimant was offered the option of returning to work to a different role, returning to work and continuing with the grievance procedure or making further visits to the occupational therapist. However, none of these were accepted. In November 2009, the investigation concluded that there was no evidence of bullying and harassment. The claimant was reminded of the alternatives and provided with a right to appeal the decision. After receiving no response from the claimant, HR wrote to her in January 2010 asking her to respond to their correspondence otherwise they would assume that she wished to terminate her employment...

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