Employment Group Newsletter, Summer 2011

Author:Mr Séamus Given
Profession:Arthur Cox


Redundancy Bullying and harassment Victimisation Civil partnership Transsexualism Criminal Justice Bill 2011 Watching Brief: current priorities of Employment Rights & Industrial Relations Redundancy

The Rights Commissioner and the Labour Court recently expounded the principle that It is normal and accepted practice that, except in the case of a liquidation that leaves an employer with no resources, that an employer in a redundancy situation will pay an additional or ex-gratia payment to a redundant employee in addition to statutory entitlements. The Court reduced the sum awarded the employee from €100,000 to €75,000 inclusive of statutory redundancy entitlements in full and final settlement of her claim: Divine Word Missionaries v A Worker CD/09/350.

In selecting for redundancy an employer will normally draw up a matrix of criteria. A criterion of 'the overall requirements of the business' is unlikely to satisfy the requirement for selection criteria to be sufficiently objective so as to eliminate, if at all possible, decisions being made on a basis which cannot withstand close scrutiny. In a recent case, the EAT repeated that employees must be told the criteria to be applied and be given the opportunity to make representations on their behalf in respect of those criteria: Cronin v R.P.S Group, Tallaght - UD 2348/ 2009.

Bullying and harassment

Employer's vicarious liability for bullying and harassment can arise even where the employer does not know an employee is being bullied. In a recent High Court case the employee teacher successfully claimed before the High Court that the Principal's behaviour towards her had been oppressive and bullying. Herbert J singled out a particularly vicious form of bullying [which] involves isolating the victim in the workplace by influencing others by actual or suggested threats to their own interests and by undermining the victim's standing in the organisation and amongst colleagues by disparaging references. The employer, in the form of the Board of Management, was held vicariously liable for the actions of the principal: Even if the Board of Management did not know, or could not reasonably have known (which was not the situation in the present case) that the plaintiff was being bullied and harassed by [the Principal] in the course of her work, it is still vicariously liable for the wrongful acts of [the Principal] once those wrongful acts were committed by him within the scope...

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