Key learnings

This case serves as a reminder that it is the responsibility of Employers to address any issue of conflict or dispute brought to their attention. While it is preferable that this is done at the earlier informal stage Employers must ensure that Employees are familiar with the policies and procedures to which that can utilise in pursuit of a resolution. It is not sufficient that any matter of concern brought to the attention of the Employer is ignored and it is unreasonable to expect an Employee to be the only party to a grievance. Therefore, Employers must ensure they bring the relevant policy to the attention of the Employee and that they engage in a reasonable and timely manner in addressing any conflict or dispute.


The Worker, of French nationality, commenced employment in August 2017 as a Customer Support worker and progressed to a position of Agreement Administrator. The Worker submits that she raised numerous complaints about a lack of communication and the unfair distribution of work. She submits that she found the situation intolerable and that eventually she had to resign in December 2021. She is seeking compensation for unfair treatment and referred her complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969.

Summary of Workers Case

The Worker stated that things started to deteriorate for her in her new position after six months coinciding with  the arrival of a new area manager. There was a serious lack of communication and she and her teammates found that there was an unfair allocation of work. The Worker claims that she brought the deterioration in working conditions to the attention of her managers on numerous occasions, but nothing was done or even acknowledged. She claims that the response of management was mainly advising workers that they should not be engaging in negative conversations amongst themselves. The Worker claims that the inaction of management greatly affected her mental health to such an extent that she went out on sick leave and felt she had no other option but to resign in December 2021. The Worker kept in contact with management and sought an investigation of her situation. The main points and conclusions of the investigation were exhibited by the Worker.

Summary of Employer’s Case

The Employer stated that it prided itself on resolving issues of staff welfare and considers that it has top class employee relations mechanisms to deal with issues raised by Employees. The Employer submits that the Worker never utilised the formal grievance procedure. When the Worker submitted her resignation letter a senior manager contacted her and offered her an alternative position but, the Employer asserts, the Worker was interested only in compensation. The Employer also arranged an investigation of the Worker’s which concluded in a number of recommendations being made to improve internal relations in the area where the Worker was employed.


The Employer argued that the Worker did not utilise the grievance procedure per se in following her complaints and the Worker accepted that she did not formally use the grievance procedure but exhibited copious documents to show her communications with management on her work-related  problems were not sufficiently acknowledged nor meaningfully addressed at first instance. The Adjudicator is satisfied that alarm bells should have been ringing for management over a period of time, but no reasonable response was given to what were quite serious issues. The plain fact of the matter was that the Worker’s grievances were only taken seriously after her letter of resignation in December 2021 and when, rather belatedly, the conclusions of an investigation were released in April 2022.

Any reasonable reading of the investigation report shows that the concerns of the Worker were mainly upheld, and recommendations were made to management to follow through and correct practices that were in place. Unfortunately, such corrective measures were too late for the Worker who had already resigned. The Adjudicator can only reasonably assume that the transformation from a very happy worker to a demoralised and deeply unhappy worker can be attributable in no small way to the patent unfairness that arose from management’s refusal to deal with the serious concerns raised by the Worker, in a timely manner. Having considered all the arguments in this case the Adjudicator is satisfied that the Worker was subject to unacceptable unfair treatment and that the compensation should be reflective of this.


Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 requires that a recommendation is made in relation to the dispute. The Adjudicator recommends concession of the Worker’s claim and advises that the Employer pay the Worker compensation of €10,000.

If your Organisation needs advice, support, or guidance in relation to compliance requirements when managing workplace conflict, or indeed any HR issues, please contact Adare Human Resource Management call (01) 561 3594 or email

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