The following employment law decisions are a useful reminder to employers of the need to ensure that fair procedures are followed as well as general adherence with external expert reports.
Hoban v Applus Car Testing Service Ltd, T/A NCTS
The employee worked for a company which operates the NCT service. The company’s code of ethics/integrity provided that employees could not bring vehicles which did not belong to them or close family members to the centre for testing for fear of bias or benefit to the employee.
The regional manager observed the employee driving a car to the centre. The employee confirmed that he did not own the car but was considering buying it and had booked it into an available slot in the centre without informing his superiors.
An investigation was commenced. The employee was invited to an investigation meeting and he admitted to driving cars which were not his own but stated that many other employees did the same. The employee also alleged that the centre manager had encouraged this practice. The employee was suspended pending further investigation.
After a brief disciplinary meeting, the employee was dismissed for gross misconduct. The employee’s internal appeal was unsuccessful.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal found that the company’s procedures were seriously flawed. The employer had failed to interview the centre manager which was “indicative of a sham investigation” and the minutes of the investigation meeting did not fully record the employee’s allegations. In addition, the regional manager who observed the employee breaching company policy had conducted both the investigation and disciplinary meeting. The Tribunal found that this breached fair procedures. Given the disregard for fair procedures, the employee was awarded €30,000.
Crowe v HSE
The employee works as a paramedic and suffered injuries while carrying out her job. She alleged that she was discriminated against in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation and disability. She also claimed that she was victimised by her employer.
The Equality Officer (the “EO”) did not find discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, the EO found that the employee was not accommodated on her return to work after her workplace accident nor provided with appropriate training as advised by occupational medical advisors. The EO found that the failure to accommodate persisted for a significant amount of time despite requests from the employee. The EO accepted that the employee was victimised due to the company’s admitted failure to engage with her. The employee remained in employment and the EO awarded her €10,000 for discrimination on the grounds of disability and €8,000 for victimisation.
Although there is nothing new in these cases, they do reiterate that serious flaws in internal processes and fair procedures will result in higher levels of compensation being awarded.