By Dónall Breen - 30 November 2020
Welcome to our November edition of Republic of Labour Law, a monthly newsletter in which we distil the most important Irish legal and HR updates from the last month in 500 words or less.
This week in the Republic of Labour Law, we look at some recent cases from the Irish courts and tribunals.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) there have been very few updates this month that are substantially relevant.
However, there have been several cases reported recently as judgments from the summer are being picked up and more virtual hearings proceed. A selection of some of the more interesting are below:
- A Garda (police officer) has had his dismissal quashed by the High Court who found that the Garda Síochána (police force) had acted unlawfully in summarily dismissing him for making a false report despite the officer’s underlying PTSD. Although the legislation in question was specific to the public sector, it once again shows the willingness of the Irish courts to interfere in private employee/employer disputes even when they are ongoing (this case was originally brought before the decision became effective).
- A catering chain has been ordered to pay out €3,500 to a former female employee after a manager circulated two images to staff, including one of himself wearing only his boxer shorts. What is interesting here is that the photos were sent to a large WhatsApp group (with both males and females) and the photos were not targeted at the claimant. Nonetheless, the tribunal found that there were failings in the preventative stage and made the award. As work WhatsApp groups become more prolific, and blur the lines between work and private ‘banter’, it is a timely reminder of how employers can still be on the hook outside of traditional communication spheres.
- An employee has successfully won a constructive dismissal claim due to her employer providing an unfavourable reference. The facts are somewhat convoluted, but the easiest way to describe it was that there was an internal promotion in which a former manger provided a poor reference for a former assistant. Although the case was not defended (which is unusual), the interesting takeaway is that the tribunal found that a bad reference was sufficient to establish a constructive dismissal claim. Providing anything other than a factual reference can cause difficulties, even if they are positive statements for former employees. The safest advice is to say as little as possible, as cold as that may seem.
That’s all for this month. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the Christmas preparations.