In this case, an installation engineer was dismissed by a communications provider shortly after he made a protected disclosure to the company’s managing director.
He began work with the company on July 27, 2015.
On January 7, 2016, he had refused to use equipment because he deemed it unsafe, therefore he couldn’t do his job. The equipment had not been certified since 2013.
His manager said he would have to raise it with HR.
One hour later he was told his services were no longer required.
One year service threshold not required under the Protected Disclosure Act
He pursued the matter at the WRC under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1997-2015, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and the Industrial Relations Acts as well.
Normally, under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1997-2015 the employee must have one years’ continuous service. However, the one years’ service rule does not apply for a dismissal related to making a protected disclosure, as defined in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.
Compensation increased to five years pay under the Protected Disclosure Act
In addition, in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, it allows for compensation of up to 5 years pay for penalisation for having made a protected disclosure, instead of the normal 2 years.
The employer maintained the engineer was dismissed because of his aggressive and unreasonable pursuit of a pay increase on multiple occasions and due to the allegedly aggressive way he dealt with staff and his manager.
At an appraisal meeting on December 14 2015, he raised the question of getting a pay increase. He was told that salary increases are not paid during the probationary period, which was for six months.
No formal Protected Disclosure raised, but informal concern was raised
The company acknowledged the engineer raised health and safety issues but noted that he did not follow the company procedure on whistleblowing from the company handbook and that he failed to bring his concerns to the attention of the MD.
WRC Adjudication Officer Decision
The WRC Adjudication Officer found the respondent’s evidence that the engineer was dismissed because of his attitude and behaviour to “lack credibility”, and that there was little direct evidence to support the allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Evidence of the colleague of the engineer, who denied that the claimant had been aggressive, was on the other hand “credible and compelling.”
The WRC Adjudication Officer concluded the claimant had made a protected disclosure on December 14, 2015 about the safety of equipment in use by the company, and was then fired the following January 7 2016.
He was awarded €19,512 in compensation.