No-fault dismissal leads to €250,000 award

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) recently ordered a tech company to pay a massive €250,000 compensation payment to a former senior executive.

The employer’s defence centred on the fact that it had exercised its right to terminate the employee on notice within the terms of the employment contract.

Facts

The claimant began work with the organisation on 1 January 2006 and held a senior executive position at the time of his dismissal.

On 18 June 2018, he learned via a conference call that the employer was terminating his contract of employment.

The employee received no explanation and was requested to vacate his office immediately. A senior HR executive from the UK was present during the conference call and the employee submitted further evidence outlining how he needed assistance to exit the building as all the security codes were changed during the telephone call.

He received his salary of €150,000 per annum during the notice period in accordance with the terms of the contract of employment and his employment ended on 18 September 2018.

The former employee sought to be reinstated or re-engaged as his preferred remedies for his dismissal.

Background to the dismissal

The employer’s parent company bought the business in 2015 with a view to selling it to its biggest customer. A proposed integration with the lead customer and subsequent sale of the employer’s product to that company could not be agreed.

The employer stated that failure to complete this sale triggered a radical restructuring process of the business resulting in a clear majority of the employees being made redundant.

The employer was therefore strongly opposed to reinstatement which it claimed would in effect see the claimant re-joining the business to oversee his own redundancy in an operation that has ceased to trade.

Findings

The WRC accepted that the employer had a contractual right to terminate the employment relationship but ruled that this did not prevent the employee from making an unfair dismissal claim.

The WRC ruled that in reaching the decision to terminate the contract of employment the employer failed to demonstrate that fair procedures were applied.

The WRC was further critical of the employer who failed to respond to the employee’s queries about why his position was being terminated and denying him his rights and procedures contained in the employer’s own handbook.

Ultimately the WRC concluded that fair procedures were totally denied to the employee.

As the employee’s ability to mitigate his loss was hampered by restrictive covenants in the employment contract, the WRC ordered the employer to pay him €250,000 in compensation.

Note for employers

While employers generally do enjoy a contractual right to make ‘no-fault’ dismissals, all terminations of employment should be assessed on their own facts and on the basis of specific HR or legal advice.

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on unfair dismissal from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call. Call us on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Latest Resources

Seasonal workers: what employers should know

Seasonal workers
As the days get longer and the skies get sunnier (well, sometimes), summer is on people’s minds. This means that business owners, meanwhile, are starting […]

St Patrick’s Day: Have you prepared for absenteeism?

Published: March 20th 2024 Following national celebrations and public holidays like St Patrick’s day, you could find yourself down several staff members. And – as […]

What Employees Are Entitled to a Public Holiday Benefit & How Are Benefits Calculated?

public holiday
Published: March 20th 2024 From Easter Monday to St Patrick’s Day, Ireland gets ten public holidays and, with them, public holiday benefits. But what if […]

Olga Shevchenko

Director/Advocate, Immigration Advice Bureau

Olga Shevchenko specialises in immigration advocacy and consultancy, in particular, employment permit, visas, family reunification, citizenship, etc, for those seeking to visit, reside or invest in Ireland.

Olga provides extensive information, knowledge, and support to her clients, enabling access to positive solutions for people struggling to handle the immigration law.

Minister Neale Richmond

Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Neale Richmond TD was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail Business and the Department of Social Protection in January 2023.

Much of his work at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is with businesses, workers, their representative bodies and the State Agencies to ensure that the economic recovery and growth extends to all parts of the country. He works closely with the SME sector, including retail, on building resilience and on the transition to the green and digital economies.

Mark Carpenter

Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Sky

Mark Carpenter is Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs at Sky Ireland. In this role he has responsibility for External and Internal Communications, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs and the company’s ‘Bigger Picture’ (CSR) programme. He also works closely with Sky Group teams on a variety of matters, in particular our partnerships with domestic broadcasters.

Prior to working at Sky, Mark worked as a Policy Officer in Houses of the Oireachtas and as a Management Consultant at Accenture. He has a BA in History from Oxford University and a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin.

Nora Cashe

Litigation and Compliance Manager, Peninsula

Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Managing Director, Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

Senior HR Consultant, Graphite HRM

Rhiannon Coyne is a Senior HR Consultant at Graphite HRM and will be providing an overview of best practice on how to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Chairman, Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.