In Brief: Case Law Special 2018Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 1 October 2018
This month’s 'In Brief' is a common law catch up. It can be hard to keep up to date with case law developments – it’s all too easy to miss an important decision that could have major implications for employers and employees, which is why we have pulled together some of the most interesting employment cases that have been decided over the last few months.
If you want to know more about any of the cases, each has a link to a more detailed case review on the Irish Employment Law Hub, where you will also find a further link to the full judgment online.
The decisions highlighted in this email cover a wide range of employment issues, including constructive dismissal; gross misconduct; working time and emailing outside office hours; fair procedures and workplace investigations; the de minimis rule; and the duty to provide reasonable adjustments.
In this case the complainant brought a claim for constructive dismissal arguing her treatment by the respondent company was so oppressive she would not tolerate it any longer. The Court had to consider the actions of the respondent and whether there was a fundamental breach going to the root of the contract.
The complainant was dismissed owing to an irregularity which had been found in the respondent’s clocking-in system. The complainant had worked closely with the former hotel owner who allowed her colleagues to clock in for her in the event she was a few minutes late for her 7.30am shift. The Adjudication Officer had to consider whether dismissal was justified in the circumstances.
If an employee works outside contractual working hours, for example, on the daily commute, in the evenings or at weekends answering emails etc., might this constitute working time under the Working Time Regulations or the Directive? Should employers actively monitor work done or hours worked by their employees? The recent Kepak decision prompts such questions.
This case offers guidance to employers on who can conduct an investigation in the workplace and reaffirms the long-established law that one cannot be a judge regarding an allegation against oneself (nemo iudex sua causa).
The Court determined that the application to judicially review a decision to impose a final written warning on a secondary school teacher should not be dismissed on grounds that it was moot, on grounds of the de minimis rule or on grounds of public policy having regard to scarce public resources. It was held the issues raised were not minimal in nature as there was potential reputational damage of a sufficient degree of seriousness which took the case outside the ambit of de minimis.
This was an appeal against the decision of the Adjudication Officer regarding a redundancy payment. The Court had to consider the suitability of the offers of alternative employment and whether the refusal to accept the offers was reasonable in the circumstances.
In this case the Court had to determine what, if any, efforts were made by the respondent to objectively evaluate whether reasonable adjustments to the working arrangements of the complainant could be made so as to render her fully capable of carrying out her duties.
This case involved a claim of constructive dismissal. The complainant alleged that she had resigned from the respondent company following an allegedly unfair bullying and harassment disciplinary procedure by the respondent.
The Court had to determine whether the reasons cited for the resignation constituted a fundamental breach going to the root of the contract and whether the complainant’s failure to make a complaint regarding her treatment was fatal to her claim.
The Adjudicator had to consider whether the respondent had directly discriminated against the complainant and whether she was in fact engaged in “like work.”
The Adjudicator held the respondent did not discriminate against the complainant in relation to her pay. He stated that whilst she was engaged in “like work,” the established practice of red circling was applied to the male comparator. Accordingly, the adjudicator decided there was not a valid comparator for the purposes of establishing less favourable treatment and dismissed the complaint.
In this case the complainant was dismissed for gross misconduct for taking a USB stick with highly confidential company information on it out of the office. Notably the respondent had a range of policies in place dealing comprehensively with internet and email security. The Court had to determine whether the decision to dismiss the complainant, following the investigation and disciplinary process, was within the range of reasonable responses for the employer.
In this month's ‘HR in 90 seconds…’ we look at probation periods; differences in employment law depending on your jurisdiction and the dangers of emailing outside working hours. Click on the link to read the full article.
Recent Case Law Reviews
- Irish Rail v Fergal Bryan 
- R and R Mechanical Limited t/a RR Projects v Peter Kiely 
- Beechside Company Limited T/A Park Hotel Kenmare v A Worker 
- The Minister for Education and Skills & anor -v- Boyle & anor 
- Kreuziger v Land Berlin and Max-Planck-Gesellschaft v Shimizu 
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.