Man sacked after making bullying claims is awarded €26k for unfair dismissal

A Service Manager sprayed perfume on a male colleague and told him "let’s see how you explain that when you get home", the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has heard.

The perfume incident was one of a number of alleged bullying incidents documented by the general operative to the WRC where the worker has successfully sued for unfair dismissal.

In the case, the WRC has ordered the man’s former employer, a Winter services firm pay him €26,000 after finding that the man was unfairly dismissed two days after he raised bullying concerns in the workplace.

The general operative told the WRC that the Services Manager would refer to him as "his bitch".

The worker also alleged at the WRC that the Services Manager turned on a fire extinguisher on him while he was working under a car.

He alleged that the fire extinguisher incident was later posted on Facebook and it became known to members of a motorcycle club that he, the Service Manager and other staff were members of.

The worker alleged that when the President of the club witnessed the video the Service Manager was expelled from the club as a consequence of the behaviour.

The worker showed the Facebook video to the WRC hearing as part of his case.

The operative told the hearing that he overheard the Service Manager saying to the Managing Director that the way to treat the general operative was to knock him down so that he would be built up stronger than before.

The worker claimed that the Service Manager told him to go home and take Prozac and that the manager was aware that he was on medication for mental health issues.

On September 7, the worker said that he could take no more and left his workplace.

He emailed the Managing Director to make a formal bullying complaint against the Service Manager and finished his email by saying he loved the job and that he should not have to put up with what he had been putting up with from the Service Manager.

The worker was asked to attend a meeting with the MD on September 9 where the Service Manager was in attendance.

At the meeting, the operative was presented with a list of grievances against him which he maintained were false.

The man left the meeting due to what he claimed was the absence of any fair procedures and shortly after on the same date received an email from the MD saying that he was dismissed with immediate effect.

The Service Manager denied that bullying had taken place and instead described his interactions with the worker as "banter".

In his findings, WRC Adjudication Officer, Gerry Rooney said that the evidence supports that the complainant had experienced a series of incidents referred to as "banter" by the Service Manager.

Mr Rooney said that it would not reasonable to refer the interactions between the two as ‘banter’. Mr Rooney said: “I find that what appears to have occurred does demonstrate an extraordinary culture of behaviour in the workplace.”

Mr Rooney stated that instead of dealing with the complainant’s concerns, the employer “chose to proceed to summarily dismiss the complainant”.

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