A graphic designer filed a complaint against her ex-employer for unfair dismissal.
The complainant had been employed by the respondent company for just less than 9 years, when she was dismissed on grounds of performance quality on the 29th of April 2016.
It was submitted that the respondent company had been in receivership when the dismissal took place. It is a small design company that sells design hours on commission. Designers record their time on each job and enter the details into the company’s IT system. Accurate and timely invoice entries are an essential part of ensuring a constant cash-flow.
The respondent raised numerous issues to the complainant; both verbally and by way of letter. Example incidents were furnished; the complainant had created 900 booklets, all rendered useless due to a fault in the layout. The respondent also referenced an occasion wherein the complainant downloaded a client’s personal information to her private laptop; this was a significant breach of confidentiality, and had never happened before within the history of the respondent company.
The respondent company stated that each staff member had a PC, yet there was only one that could facilitate the input of client details and invoices. The complainant did not see the point in discussing the lack of IT facilities available to staff, as she had raised issue with other aspects of the company previously and had found it entirely ineffective.
The respondent company took issue with the complainant’s efficiency and addressed this by letter. The complainant addressed these issues and made tangible efforts to raise her own productivity. It was submitted that the respondent company had not suffered any financial loss as a result of the actions of the complainant. The incident regarding the booklets had been pro-bono work, and therefore did not impact the company negatively.
The complainant was dismissed by way of letter on the 29th of April, 2016. This letter was left on her desk during her lunch break.
It was found that the complainant had proficiently addressed all issues raised by her employer. In addition, the respondent company failed to adhere to any form of disciplinary procedure; the complainant was not invited to any meetings, and her dismissal took place following just three letters regarding her unsatisfactory performance. The respondent company failed to consider alternative sanctions instead preferring to terminate her employment.
The complaint was deemed well-founded and the respondent company was ordered to pay compensation of €30,000 to the complainant.
This case highlights the necessity for employers to follow fair procedures when considering disciplinary action against an employee. Where an employer wishes to proceed with a disciplinary matter it is imperative that they follow the company’s Disciplinary Procedure and that the process is fair and rational. Employees must be formally invited to attend a meeting and the nature of the meeting together with the allegations being made against the employee must be confirmed. The employee must be allowed the opportunity to answer the allegations made against them and where disciplinary action is taken, be given the opportunity to appeal that decision.