Michael O’Sullivan won his case for unfair dismissal against a recruitment firm, Claddagh Resource. But he was only awarded €250 on account of his “deplorable behaviour”.
The employee, Michael O’Sullivan, was a recruitment consultant working with a firm owned by the former Presidential election candidate, Peter Casey.
O’Sullivan’s performance was not up to scratch, according to his employer and he was put on a performance improvement plan (PIP). O’Sullivan claimed he was set unrealistic targets and was fired on the spot during a meeting on 18th March 2021.
This was denied by the employer whose representative stated the reason for dismissal was misconduct, performance, and breach of company policy.
When O’Sullivan was put on the performance improvement plan he was given 90 days to meet the target of generating ten possible candidates for placement each week. At the end of a second PIP O’Sullivan claimed he was fired on the spot.
The employer denied this was the case.
However, on 23rd March 2021 O’Sullivan wrote an email to a colleague as follows:
“What you were doing/have done is legal grounds for you to be fired and I have a case for defamation of character/slander against you. I expect an apology from you,”
O’Sullivan also stated he had spoken to a solicitor about it. The colleague was extremely upset by this letter and reported it to the employer.
The Company chairman then wrote to O’Sullivan as follows:
“You now seem determined to disrupt the Claddagh business by making accusations against employees…. It goes without saying that I cannot have a Claddagh employee threatening to sue another employee,” and terminated O’Sullivan’s employment immediately.
The adjudicator determined that O’Sullivan had not been fired “on the spot” at the appraisal meeting of 18th March but O’Sullivan was given a warning that his performance was not acceptable, and it needed to improve.
O’Sullivan sent the email to his colleague 5 days later on 23rd March and the adjudicator found that this was the reason for the dismissal.
The WRC found that this email was “unacceptably threatening” and O’Sullivan had engaged in “deplorable conduct”, had lied to his colleague about getting legal advice and made “an outrageous and unfounded threat against a female co-worker”.
O’Sullivan was found to have been unfairly dismissed because the employer had terminated “without even the slightest nod in the direction of a fair process and was an unfair dismissal”.
However, O’Sullivan’s conduct was the primary reason why he only awarded €250 for the unfair dismissal.
“I regard the specific conduct of the complainant as being such that it is at the extreme end of the spectrum of gravity and his contribution to the termination of his employment is at the highest level imaginable,” Mr Brady, the Adjudication Officer, wrote.