In Brief: Case Law Special (November 2020)

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 4 November 2020
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Bullying & Harassment; Deductions from Wages; Equality

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 article cover a wide range of employment issues, including Bullying and Harassment, Deductions from Wages and Equality Matters.

Bullying and Harassment

In Rehab Group v Ms Annette Roberts [2020] the Respondent’s negligence in dealing with the Complainant’s allegations of bullying was grounds for her to succeed in a claim of constructive dismissal. The Respondent’s defence appeared to be that they could not speak to the alleged bully until a formal complaint had been made.  The Labour Court noted that this is simply not the case and it could be argued that there is no need to provide for an informal approach to the resolution of such matters if that was the approach taken.

The recently reported case of A Care Assistant v A Nursing Home [2020] in which three care assistants reported allegations of sexual harassment against a nursing home resident is an important reminder to employers that they have a duty to provide a safe working environment for employees.  The Complainants’ in this case reported that a resident subjected them to harassment of physical conduct of a sexual nature including touching and foul language.  No action was taken by management to prevent the ongoing issues and protect the care assistants.  The Adjudication Officer was satisfied that the care workers were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace by the resident and noted that she accepted that the Respondent had to balance its obligations to the resident and its employees and that dealing with challenging behaviour is a fact of life with certain nursing home residents but that on this occasion the Respondent’s focus was only on the resident.

Deductions from Wages

In A Worker v A Retail Company [2020] the Labour Court opined that The Payment of Wages Act did not permit an employer to use a refusal to pay wages that are properly payable within the meaning of the Act as leverage in a contractual dispute.  In this case the Respondent’s refusal to allow the Complaint to return to work and refusal to pay her when she was fit and able was an unlawful deduction from wages.

Conversely in Dublin Airport Authority v John Bacon [2020] the Labour Court overturned an Adjudication Officer’s decision to award €2,472.10 for unlawful deductions.  This case is interesting in that it highlights the confusion that can occur when a payroll system changes from weekly pay to in this case, fortnightly pay in arrears.  The Respondent successful argued that any payments due to the Complainant were paid following a collective agreement in 2018. 

Equality Cases

DWF Solicitors contributes a monthly case review on significant equality decisions for the Irish Employment Law Hub.  Recent cases include:

Victor Kings Oluebube v CPL Solutions Limited t/a Flexsource Recruitment [2020] ADJ-00024254 in which the Respondent successfully availed of the defence provided by section 14A (2) of the Employment Equality Acts which essentially means that an employer who takes reasonably practicable steps to ensure harassment does not occur can not be found liable for any harassment.  In this case a Respondent who took swift action to investigate and deal with a complaint of racial harassment was found to have taken steps to reverse the effect of the harassment and to prevent a reoccurrence.

User Interface Designer v Engineering Company [2020] ADJ-00023614 – an Adjudication Officer held that the Complainant, a Croatian national, was treated less favourably than her comparator, an Irish national when she did not receive discretionary payment during sickness absence.  This case highlights the difficulties that can arise with discretionary benefits and the importance of ensuring they are fairly and reasonably applied.

In the recent WRC case of a Receptionist v A Manufacturing Company [2020] ADJ-00023749 an employee with less than one years' service was awarded compensation of €10,000 (just over 5 months' pay) after she was found to have been discriminatorily dismissed.  The Complainant, who had less than one year’s service at the time of her dismissal alleged that the performance issues for which her employment was terminated arose from her disability and the dismissal was therefore discriminatory.

These cases and many more can be found on the Legal Island's Irish Employment Law Hub

This article is correct at 04/11/2020

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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