Home Knowledge Award of €55,000 for failure to follow fair procedures

Award of €55,000 for failure to follow fair procedures

A recent award by the Employment Appeals Tribunal demonstrates that fair procedures remain a very important consideration when conducting an investigation or taking disciplinary action in the workplace.

In the case, the individual was employed as a teacher in a school from 1965 and was appointed Principal in 1996. Within a period of one year, following three separate complaints and a referral from a mediator, the school’s board of management dismissed the Principal. In concluding that the disciplinary process was flawed, the Employment Appeals Tribunal emphasised the fact that the Principal had no prior disciplinary sanctions from 1965 to 2005. The Tribunal stated that the initial complaints against the Principal were not serious enough for a formal finding of misconduct. While recognising the difficult circumstances of the case, the Tribunal stated that due to the clear conflict between the Principal and the chairman of the board the disciplinary process was flawed from the start. 

Even though the Tribunal did find that the Principal had contributed to her dismissal as a result of her unreasonable behaviour, she was nevertheless awarded €55,000.

The following should always be considered when carrying out investigations or disciplinary action in the workplace:

  • Ensure that anyone involved in the disciplinary process has no pre-existing bias for or against the employee.
  • Ensure proper grievance procedures are put in place and are followed.
  • Ensure an appeal process is available following any disciplinary action and inform the employee of such a right.
  • Inform the employee of the allegations made against them and provide any written documentation available.
  • Inform the employee of any possible disciplinary sanctions.
  • Make witnesses available for cross-examination.
  • Always ensure the process is conducted fairly and impartially having regard to natural justice.