Award for Constructive Dismissal Increased from €10,000 to €35,000 on Appeal

Background to the Complaint

In this case, the Claimant alleged that she was subjected to bullying and intimidation by her immediate manager and was forced to resign from her employment because of her treatment.

Her employer rejected her claim stating that she resigned from her employment of her own volition.
The dispute was referred to the Rights Commissioner which issued a recommendation that it was satisfied that the Claimant was forced to resign at a significant loss to herself and causing her considerable loss and upset. Accordingly, it recommended that she be awarded the sum of €10,000 net, in full and final settlement of her dispute.
The Company appealed this decision to the Labour Court and argued that the Claimant was not dismissed but rather that she resigned. They alleged that she had difficulties in coping with her position and that her manager was forced to undertake some of her responsibilities. It is also alleged that she did not utilise the Company’s grievance procedure.
However, the worker argued that she was subjected to constant bullying and harassment by her immediate manager and that she did try to discuss her complaint with both her immediate manager and another senior manager without success. She ultimately wrote to the CEO of the Company outlining her grievance in significant detail.

Constructive Dismissal Claim Upheld by Labour Court

The Court noted that the Company appealed the Rights Commissioner’s recommendation as the Claimant had taken her decision to resign without referring her allegation of bullying through the Company’s grievance procedures.
However, the Court was of the view that the Company made no effort to deal with the difficulties raised by her during the period of her employment and no effort was made to investigate the serious allegations of bullying formerly made at the time of her resignation.
The Court was also critical of the Company’s failure to recognise and exercise its duty of care to the employee.
The Court not only rejected the Company’s appeal but recommended that the award to the employee should be increased to €35,000.
Case: A Worker v Trinity Biotech Manufacturing, Labour Court, 2004

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