Worker sacked after pregnant comment to colleague who was not expecting

WRC finds man (53) was unfairly dismissed after not being provided with right to reply

A group sales and customer service adviser at an online retailer, who was sacked soon after allegedly making inappropriate comments to a colleague about being pregnant when she was not, has been awarded €5,000.

The woman told her bosses she did not know why her colleague would continue making the inappropriate comments even after being asked to stop.

The complaint made by the woman on September 28th last came a day after another employee approached the line manager to say they felt uncomfortable with the adviser as he had made “inappropriate comments” towards them.

The adviser was still on probation after commencing work on August 9th last. The 53-year-old was working in a firm where the average age was 30.


A line manager raised the issue concerning the man’s inappropriate comments with an operations manager. As a result, the company’s finance director advised that if they were not happy with the worker’s performance and felt that things were not going to improve, they should hold a meeting with him and terminate his employment as he was still on probation.


The line manager met the adviser on October 1st and informed him that complaints had been made against him by colleagues relating to “offensive comments” he had made. The adviser’s contract was terminated effective immediately.

He raised his grievance at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which has concluded he was unfairly dismissed and recommended that the employer pay him €5,000.

In her ruling, WRC adjudication officer Marie Flynn said: "Dismissal from employment is a traumatic experience for any worker which may cause reputational damage and may impact on the worker's ability to secure future employment. The trauma is exacerbated when fair procedures are not followed."

Mr Flynn said that in the case “the employer’s handling of the entire matter clearly breached the worker’s right to fair procedures and natural justice”.

‘In danger’

She stated it was clear from evidence adduced at the hearing that the worker in the case “was not provided with details of any performance issue, he was not aware that he was in danger of losing his job and he was not afforded the right to representation”.

“Whilst the worker was informed that colleagues had made allegations that he had made inappropriate remarks to them, he was not provided with details of the alleged remarks,” she said.

“Prior to the meeting of October 1st, 2018, the employer had already determined to dismiss the worker as is evidenced by the fact that he was handed his letter of dismissal at the meeting. In these circumstances, it is clear that the worker was not afforded a meaningful right of reply.”

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times