Constructive Dismissal is the term used when an Employee terminates his or her employment based on the conduct of the Employer. Unlike in an Unfair Dismissals case where the dismissal is deemed to be unfair unless proven otherwise and justified by the Employer – in Constructive Dismissal instances the onus is on the Employee to prove that their resignation was based on poor Employer conduct.
If it is found that the Employee has been Unfairly or Constructively Dismissed then he or she could either be awarded compensation for the loss of earnings suffered as a result of the termination of employment or could be placed back in their original role. Reinstatement is not common practice (particularly in Constructive Dismissal cases) due to the expected tension/ strained relationship between the Employer and the former Employee and due to the amount of time that is likely to have lapsed between the termination of the employment contract and the resolution of the case. The Employee has often entered in to a new employment contract elsewhere.
It is important for Employers to be aware of everything that occurs in their workplace as even other Employees’ behaviour that goes unchecked by the Employer could contribute to a Constructive Dismissal case. These can be extremely costly.
Here is an example of a case where the Employee (the Claimant) was awarded €9,000 after the Employment Appeals Tribunal found that he had been Constructively Dismissed.
The Claimant in this case started working for the Respondent in 2007. There were no issues until late 2010 when a Technician was promoted to Technical Manager. This immediately created a hostile environment and relationships became strained. The Claimant experienced problematic scenarios in the workplace as a result of the Technical Manager’s temper on numerous occasions.
The final occurrence led to the termination of employment for the Claimant. On the Claimant’s final day working for the Respondent the Technical Manager, a physically intimidating individual, entered the shop where the Claimant and his colleague were working. The Technical Manager lifted the Claimant up from his chair by his arm and proceeded to shout at him. The Claimant, who was frightened, attempted to avoid confrontation and turned away. The Technical Manager again grabbed the Claimant, this time by his shoulder, and spun him around while demanding that he not complain. The Claimant said that he didn’t complain, he just answered questions. The Claimant was pulled closer and then told to leave by the Technical Manager.
The Claimant did as he was told but the Technical Manager proceeded to follow him, grabbing him by the neck. At this stage the Claimant was in a state of shock and told the Technical Manager that he was simply working his way through college. The Claimant’s shirt was torn, there were marks on his neck and his hand was bruised after the incident.
After the event, the Claimant called a Senior Manager and told him what had happened. The Claimant returned his keys to the shop and arranged to collect his jacket from his colleague. A series of meetings with the shop Manager and other Senior Managers were arranged. The Claimant was offered a transfer to another shop, however, this other shop was located far
from the Claimant’s home and, therefore, was not a suitable alternative – he could not accept this transfer proposal.
As a result of the meetings the Claimant was given a written warning, however, as no arrangements were made for him to return to a safe workplace he had no option but to resign.
The Claimant established loss for the Tribunal and it was determined that the Claimant was Constructively Dismissed. The Respondent failed in its responsibility to the Claimant by not responding adequately.
Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007, the Claimant was awarded €9,000 as compensation for being Constructively Dismissed.
The appeal was heard at Dublin on 14th October 2013. Case Number: UD669/2012.