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Labour Court Overturns €18,000 Penalisation Award

posted 7 months ago

In an article published in our October 2022 newsletter , we discussed the decision of the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) in ADJ-00033234. This decision was subsequently appealed to the Labour Court. In Conor Williamson v David Stone and Carol Stone t/a Ashton Dog Pound and Warden Service (PDD232), the Labour Court (the “Court”) overturned the WRC decision, finding that there was no causal link between the protected disclosure and the Complainant’s suspension/final written warning.

Facts: The Complainant commenced employment as a Dog Warden with the Respondent in July 2017. On 26th July 2020, the Complainant made a complaint to the Respondent in relation to the euthanasia of a number of dogs in its kennels.  As the Respondent did not appear to act on this complaint, he then reported it to the Gardai several days later.  His claim to the WRC was that these complaints constituted protected disclosures and that he was penalised by the Respondent due to making them.

The Respondent’s view was that the Complainant believed that by positioning himself as a whistleblower he would be protected from normal performance and disciplinary procedures. The WRC upheld the Complainant’s penalisation complaint and awarded him €18,000 in compensation.

The Respondent appealed this decision in October 2022 and the Labour Court hearing took place in July 2023. The Respondent told the Court that the Complainant was put on suspension due to bullying allegations and a refusal to be on-call. The Respondent received a number of complaints from six members of staff accusing the Complainant of bullying behaviour. The Respondent, following company policy, placed the Complainant on paid suspension in order to investigate the allegations. The Respondent decided to extend a final written warning that had been issued to the Complainant on 15th December 2020, for a further 12 months. This decision was communicated to the Complainant on 27th June 2021.

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