The complainant submitted a complaint to the WRC in relation to false information regarding racial slur and his employment start date.

Key Learnings

It is best practice to have an employee’s start date in writing to avoid any ambiguity in a situation similar to the case below. Moreover, it is an employer’s legal obligation to provide and hold on record written statements of terms and conditions for each employee. In this case, there was no physical evidence of the employee’s start date, the employee was still employed and entitled to a fair disciplinary process. This case also highlights the importance of conducting compliant disciplinary processes and ensuring that proportionality is applied to any sanction under that process following review and consideration of any evidence of the allegation presented.


The Complainant asserts that he was unfairly dismissed from his employment; the Respondent denies the claim and asserts that the Complainant was dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct.

Summary of Respondent’s Case

The Respondent outlined that the Complainant was lawfully dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct. It asserted that the Complainant commenced employment on July 9, 2016, and not the date in 2014 that was contended by the Complainant. It was also disputed by the Respondent that the Complainant worked 60 hours per week but rather 40 hours. In this case the Respondent submitted that the parties should be anonymised in the publication of this decision.

The General Manager gave evidence under affirmation. He outlined that he started his role in September 2019. He outlined that the Complainant was dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct and that on the day of the alleged incident the Complainant was driving a shuttle service for employees of a named office. The Complainant is said to have used a racial slur when referencing one such employee and had refused to convey that passenger. The General Manager referred to two statements from drivers attesting to this. Both drivers had since left the company, albeit one had since died.

This incident took place on September 13, 2020 and the General Manager convened a meeting the following day where it was put forward that the Complainant admitted using this language. The General Manager referred to the minutes of the meeting. The Complainant was dismissed by a Respondent director, and this was not appealed. The Complainant was paid two weeks of notice pay and the outstanding annual leave.

In respect of the documents, the General Manager said that the inclusion of ‘2022’ on both drivers’ statements was an error and they were drafted in 2020. He had typed the minutes of both meetings on the September 14, 2020, and had twice mis-spelled the Complainant’s first name. The General Manager said that the minutes provided by the Complainant were false, as was his letter of dismissal.

Summary of Complainant’s Case

The Complainant outlined on affirmation that his employment commenced on October 10, 2014. It transferred to the Respondent company in 2016 and all the time, he drove under the auspices of the new company’s trading name. The Complainant was paid €600 per week.

The Complainant outlined that during the pandemic, he drove a shuttle service for employees of a named company. He had not noticed that his route on September 13, 2020, was not the expected one, so he did not collect some passengers on their way to work. He attended the meeting the following day, where the Respondent raised his performance and his ‘stupidity’. There was no accusation of the Complainant using a racial slur. At the hearing the Complainant denied saying the words attributed to him by the Respondent. The Complainant obtained new employment in October 2020.

In cross-examination, it was put to the Complainant that the letter of dismissal he produced at the hearing was not authentic. The Complainant replied that this was signed by the General Manager.

Findings and Conclusions

The Adjudicator noted a number of conflicts highlighting the first conflict of fact related to the start date of the Complainant’s employment. His evidence under affirmation was that he commenced employment on October 10, 2014, and that he transferred to the respondent company in 2016. The evidence of the Respondent came from the General Manager, who only commenced his role in September 2019. Therefore, the Adjudicator found as fact that the Complainant’s employment commenced October 10, 2014.

The second and most significant conflict in evidence was whether the Complainant used the racial slur to a customer attributed to him by the respondent. He denied that this occurred at all, and the Adjudicator found that the allegation made against the Complainant was false and not substantiated.

The Adjudicator based this finding on the Complainant’s evidence given under affirmation also noting that the surviving witness who apparently said he heard the Complainant uttering these words was not present to give evidence. Third, the Adjudicator noted the discrepancy in the years cited in the statements which significantly questions the credibility of both documents. The statements record that they were made on the September 14, 2022, and not 2020 when they are said to have been given. It is unlikely that a statement made in 2020 would wrongly post-date the year of the statement by two years. It is much more likely that the documents were prepared in 2022, and this year inserted out of habit. This suggests that the statements were used to add some documentary ballast to the false assertion that the Complainant used a racial slur.

The Adjudicator found as fact that the Complainant mis-read his work docket for the September 13, 2020, thereby omitting to collect passengers on their way to work and outlined that this error was not gross misconduct, nor was it grounds for the Complainant to be dismissed. It follows that the Complainant was unfairly dismissed.

The Complainant found employment quickly, starting his new role on the October 12, 2020. He was paid two weeks of notice pay. The Adjudicator awarded the Complainant two weeks pay (€1,200), being the shortfall up to when he started new employment, taking account of the notice pay he received. The Adjudicator outlined the Complainants entitlement to, ‘the value of any loss or diminution, attributable to the dismissal, of the rights of the employee under the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 1973’, and cited that this should be calculated from his commencement date, that date being October 10, 2014. As the Complainant had no breaks in service and no contribution to his dismissal it was found just and equitable by the Adjudicator that the Complainant be compensated in full for the loss of the accrued service, which amounted to €7,728.


Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015 requires the Adjudicator to make a decision in relation to the unfair dismissal claim consisting of a grant of redress in accordance with section 7 of the 1977 Act.

For the reasons set out above, the Adjudicator found the complainant to be unfairly dismissed from his employment and ordered the Respondent to pay €8,928 in compensation.