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Award of €55,000 as company did not supply details of the disciplinary allegations

Basically the award was made because the employee was not provided with the disciplinary allegations against her even through The Tribunal ordered the respondent, Michael H. Ltd, to pay the claimant, Rita Spain, €55,000 in compensation after ruling that she was unfairly dismissed.

According to the claimant, she was summoned to a disciplinary meeting. However, she was not told what she was alleged to have done that merited a disciplinary hearing. Despite a number of letters being sent by her solicitor to the respondent, no information was supplied prior to the hearing. The claimant felt that she was left with no option but to resign her position.

The Tribunal pointed out that the onus was on the claimant to prove that she did not voluntarily resign and that the termination of her employment was due to the conduct of the respondent. “It is for the Tribunal to consider if the actions and behaviour of the respondent were so unreasonable that it was reasonable to expect the applicant not to tolerate the behaviour. The conduct of the respondent is crucial.”

The Tribunal noted that the claimant was simply provided with a notification of the preliminary meeting dated three days before the planned date of the disciplinary hearing.

“It is deemed a most basic request when an employee is facing disciplinary proceedings that an employee be provided with any relevant documentation in advance, the documents supporting the allegation … and full details of the nature of the allegations being made before an investigation in order that the employee is both aware of the case being made against him/her and can respond fully to the allegations.”

The Tribunal added that “the offer of a ‘preliminary meeting’ in order to examine this documentation is not sufficient for procedural, or natural justice, or fairness.” The Tribunal noted that details of the respondent’s disciplinary and bullying & harassment procedure were not furnished, despite repeated requests to do so.

It also noted that the claimant had made an oral complaint of bullying in the workplace and that this had not been investigated by the respondent. In assessing compensation, the Tribunal took into account the fact that the claimant required medical attention on being notified about the disciplinary hearing and has since been unwell with stress, depression and loss of self esteem. In its view, her illness is attributable wholly to the factors that led to her resignation. (Rita Spain v Michael H. Ltd, Dublin – UD 1137/ 2011)