In Brief: Case Law Special (May 2021)Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 5 May 2021
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 WRC hearings, redundancy matters and deductions from pay.
Workplace Relations Adjudication Service
The Irish Supreme Court has recently ruled in Zalewski -v- Adjudication Office & ors  IESC 24 that aspects of the WRC Adjudication Service were unconstitutional. In response the WRC has produced interim guidelines (while legislation is being prepared) to address the Supreme Court findings including a new rule that hearings will be in public, the names of the parties will no longer be anonymised. Legislative changes will also permit Adjudication Officers with the power to administer an oath or affirmation and provide for a punishment for the giving of false evidence. The changes do not apply to hearings convened under the Industrial Relations Act 1969 which will remain private.
Redundancy and Re-location
When does a change of location amount to a redundancy situation? In the recent case of Cosy Tots & Co. Ltd V Bernadette Conn  the Labour Court upheld a decision of an Adjudication Officer who found that the extra distance involved in the change of location, while not significant would nonetheless amount to additional travel time (given the city centre location) that would also interfere with the Complainant’s ability to provide childcare for her grandchild. Also, in a Social Worker v A Mental Health Facility  an Adjudication Officer recommended that the Respondent pay the Complainant the sum of £5000 for changing her place of work without sufficient consultation.
Pay and Conditions of Employment
Pay disputes continue to a common theme amongst claims taken under the Industrial Relations Act 1965 and Payment of Wages Act 1991. For example, in an Assistant National Director v Health Service Provider  an Adjudication Officer recommend that the Respondent pay the Complainant an allowance in recognition of additional responsibilities undertaken and the Labour Court upheld a finding of an Adjudication Officer who ruled that the unilateral reduction of the Complainant’s pay rate in Vurxol Dublin West Limited Bluebird Care t/a Bluebird Care Meath v Ms Aisling Kehoe  was unlawful. However, in a Technician v Education Provider  an Adjudication Officer recommended that the Complaint accept the offer of 6 months retrospection put forward by the Respondent to address an issue relating to the correct pay level.
DWF Solicitors contributes a monthly case review on significant equality decisions for the Irish Employment Law Hub. Recent cases include:
Discrimination in Recruitment – in A Claims Officer v An Insurance Company  and Nicola Matthews v Department of Health  Adjudication Officers ruled that a lack of transparency in the selection processes led to a findings of race and age discrimination. These decisions highlight the importance of clear and objective selection criteria being applied to candidates in a recruitment process. Employers should ensure that personal details, such as age, disability, family or civil status, are not easily identifiable in the selection process.
Pregnancy Discrimination – in Jo Jingles Cork v Heather O’Sullivan (Kearney)  the Labour Court upheld the decision of an Adjudication Officer who found that the Complainant’s dismissal arose from her pregnancy and her reporting of health and safety concerns arising from her pregnancy to the Respondent.
These cases and many more can be found within the Case Law section on the Hub.
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.