News from the Courts

We outline 2 recent cases where the High Court has used it’s powers to overturn a ruling made by the Employment Appeals Tribunal and has not permitted an injunction for an employee trying to stop his employer dismissing him.

In the first case, the Circuit Court (overturning a decision by the Employment Appeals Tribunal) had given an award of €90,000 plus costs to a Tourism Executive who sued for unfair dismissal on the basis that she was an employee rather than an independent contractor. She stated that she was forced to sign an independent contractor’s  agreement, and she had not been able to adequately consider the content, or to obtain independent legal advice. The ex-employee had asserted that she was an employee, however, following evidence given, the High Court rejected her assertion, and it was clear from this evidence that she was, indeed, an independent contractor.

The second case involved an IT executive whose employment was being terminated because he was ‘not a good fit’ for the company. The IT executive asked the High Court for interlocutory relief to prevent the company from dismissing him. The employer stated that there was no implication of poor performance or any misconduct.

Following evidence given, the High Court stated that there was no evidence that the dismissal was in any way fault based, and the employer was also quite happy to provide a reference clearly stating the individual’s abilities. Therefore, there was no requirement to impose an injunction and the case was thrown out.

This is quite a critical case, demonstrating that companies – if they can clearly justify it – can take decisions on employees who are effectively ‘not a fit’ for the position.