Woman who sent derogatory e-mail awarded €10,000
A WOMAN who sent an e-mail to a colleague making derogatory remarks about other people she worked with has been awarded €10,000 by an Employment Appeals Tribunal which had heard her claim for wrongful dismissal.
The tribunal found that Elizabeth O’Connell was not properly dismissed from her role with cash and carry wholesalers James A Barry in Mallow, Co Cork.
Ms O’Connell, from Ballyshane, Doneraile, had sent the “inappropriate and derogatory” e-mail to a colleague who was also a friend.
The e-mail was seen by a supervisor who was sitting at Ms O’Connell’s computer. He brought it to the attention of the human resources (HR) director who brought it to the attention of the people mentioned in it. According to evidence given to the tribunal, one of Ms O’Connell’s colleagues was so upset she threatened to sue and sought counselling.
Though no formal complaint was made by those mentioned in the e-mail, the HR department dismissed her after an investigation having concluded the e-mail was a matter of “gross misconduct”. The decision was upheld on appeal.
Ms O’Connell held that her dismissal was “disproportionate and harsh”. She told the tribunal she had never intended the e-mail to be seen by other people.
She maintained she asked her HR manager to consider allowing her to return to work on a final written warning and gave him an undertaking that sort of thing would never happen again. She said her initial decision not to apologise to a colleague who was mentioned in the e-mail was because that person was considering suing her. She eventually did offer to make such an apology.
The tribunal held that the procedures adopted by the company were deficient in dismissing Ms O’Connell. It awarded her €10,000 under the terms of the Unfair Dismissals Act and €931.16 for minimum notice.