Office manager portrayed as ‘employee from hell’ awarded €160,000

Woman had provided unstinting loyalty to her employer for more than 30 years

 

An office manager who was wrongly portrayed as “an employee from hell” by her employer has been awarded just under €160,000 for her unfair dismissal.

This follows the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), in one of its highest awards to date, making the €159,705 award for the office manager’s sacking in July of last year.

The woman had provided unstinting loyalty to her employer – a small family run drugs company – for more than 30 years.

However, her work-life went rapidly downhill after her boss died and his wife took an active role in the day-to-day running of the business.

Adjudication Officer in the case, Michael Hayes said that “it is simply not credible that the complainant turned into the employee from hell as submitted by the respondent having given 30 years of unimpeachable service to the point at which it is alleged she acted in such an offensive and reprehensible manner”.

In the ruling and to avoid any doubt about the scale of the award, Mr Hayes spelled out the figure when he wrote that the employer pay the woman “€159,705 (say one hundred and fifty nine thousand, seven hundred and five euro) in compensation”.

No parties are named in the ruling and the woman has been given the award under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which penalises employers who unfairly dismiss employees.

In her complaint, the woman said that she helped the widow of her late boss in running the business “but despite best effort she found her working relationship with the now major shareholder difficult”.

The woman shared her misgivings with the lady’s son who was himself a director of the company, but no action was forthcoming.

Accordingly, due to the unhappy working environment and the effect on her health, she said that she was left with no alternative but to lodge a formal grievance in the matter ranging from complaints of a bullying nature and issues regarding the safety of the work environment.

As a direct result, the woman was summarily dismissed from her employment by letter on July 11th, 2016.

The firm stated the late owner’s widow “found the complainant to be difficult to manage and increasingly uncooperative”.

The firm alleged the office manager “took long breaks and her attendance practices became increasingly unacceptable”.