In Brief: Case Law Special (August 2020)

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 29 July 2020
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Unfair Dismissal; Discrimination; Sectoral Employment Orders; Dismissal During Probation

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 has major implications for employers and employees. For this very reason we decided to compile a list of some of the most interesting employment cases that have been decided in 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 Unfair Dismissal, Issues of Constitutionality and Discrimination.

Unfair Dismissal

Procedural defects in conducting dismissals continue to be a costly failure by many organisations, as demonstrated in A Former Employee v A Garage [2020] and A Worker v A Factory [2020].   In the case of Co-ordinator of an Education Project v Education Service Provider [2020], while the Adjudicator accepted that while there were reasonable grounds for dismissal, the procedural defects which rendered the dismissal to be unfair. 

Dismissal During Probation

Perhaps a more worrying reminder of the importance of fair procedures in dismissal, even where the employee does not have the requisite service to claim unfair dismissals, was in the recent High Court ruling in Donal O’Donovan –v- Over-C Technology Limited and Over-C Limited [2020] IEHC 291 in which the High Court granted an interlocutory injunction following the purported dismissal of a chartered management accountant during his probationary period.  The Court ruled that the employee’s role be reinstated.  For a full review of the implications of this ruling see our article by Deirdre Malone, RDJ, Dismissal During Probation - How Do I Handle It?

Workplace Adjudication Service

The High Court decision in Zalewski -v- The Workplace Relations Commission [2020] rejected the challenge by Mr Zalewski that the WRC was unconstitutional.  One of the arguments to support the constitutionality of the WRC was the ability of decision of the Adjudication Service to be appealed to the Labour Court.
More here: Challenge to the Workplace Relations Commissions Adjudication Service - High Court Decision

Sectoral Employment Orders

The recent High Court finding that Sectoral Employment Orders made pursuant to the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 were unconstitutional could have significant implications for workers in electrical, mechanical and construction sectors relating to pay and conditions of employment. The Government has indicated that it will appeal the High Court ruling and recommended that there should be no diminution in terms and conditions of employment of any affected worker until the matter was heard and determined by the Supreme Court.


A number of discrimination cases arose over the last few months including a Receptionist/Office Administrator v Manufacturing Company [2020] where an employee with 10 months service was found to have been subjected to discrimination on the grounds of her disability when the employer terminated her employment on the grounds of poor performance.  

An interesting equal pay case found that the uncontested facts that three individuals who were recruited to undertake the same job, at the same time, doing the same work -  but that the two male employees are paid at a higher rate of pay was sufficient to ground a prima-facie case of discrimination in the Complainant’s case. 

The fairness of retirement dismissals continues to be challenged and in Joseph McGrath v Focus Ireland [2020] the Adjudication Officer accepted the Respondent's "aims" were legitimate. However, in demonstrating that the means of achieving those aims is both necessary and appropriate, an employer must examine the actual circumstances of the employee's position. It is not enough to simply cite only the employee's age.  The implications of this case are discussed in a recent article from DWF, Mandatory Retirement Age - Is It Objectively Justifiable?

You can visit the Case Law section here on the Hub to view the cases mentioned in this article and more.


This article is correct at 29/07/2020

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.

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