€15,000 awarded to store manager unfairly dismissed for hugging colleagues

WRC rules procedural unfairness and lapse in natural justice were afforded to the store manager in question



25 February 2020

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A major retailer has been ordered to pay €15,000 in compensation to a former store manager, after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruled the manager was unfairly dismissed for hugging his colleagues.

WRC adjudication officer Patsy Doyle said €15,000 compensation should be paid as a result of the procedural unfairness and lapse in natural justice afforded to the store manager. However, she also factored in a reduction in the award to take account of the store manager’s own contribution to his dismissal.

The Irish Times reports the man was dismissed from his role at the end of November 2018. The company informed the former manager in a letter that his actions “fell below the expected standards we require from a member of management when colleagues have told you to stop hugging them, but you continued to do so”.

However in an internal investigation, the store manager said he had not received a complaint against him in his seven years with the retailer and that while he had hugged staff, no one had taken serious offence to it, describing his conduct as “banter in the workplace”. He added that if he had been directed to stop he would have.

The retailer’s appeal manager in the WRC hearing said no complaint of harassment had arisen but four to five staff out of a total of 18 to 20 had been negatively affected by the man’s actions. Under cross-examination, the store manager confirmed that he had pinched a female member of staff and argued that his behaviour amounted to horse play.

Patsy Doyle said no apparent action was taken to investigate or curtail the store manager’s “very unusual behaviour” and that she “made no finding on the complainant’s guilt or innocence in that regard”.

The employer was ordered to pay the store manager an additional €2,975 due to not paying his notice.



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