Case Law Review – A Hotel Manager v A Hotel 
The Complainant was employed as a Night Manager with the Respondent from October 2001 until the termination of his employment on the 2nd of May 2019 for gross misconduct. As a result of complaints received from colleagues of the Complainant, he was suspended, with full pay, on the 27th of December 2018 while the matter was further investigated.
The Complainant submitted that the Respondent ceased paying him on the 13th of January 2019 and he remained unpaid until the 9th of May 2019 and contended that he did not receive notice that his pay was being stopped, either in writing or verbally and he did not consent in writing to it being stopped. According to the Complainant, seven days after the alleged administrative error, which had led to his pay being stopped, he brought the matter to the attention of the Respondent. However, the matter was not rectified.
The Complainant had failed to attend the disciplinary hearing. He submitted that the initial failure in this regard was on the part of the Respondent. The Complainant maintained that it was unlikely that any person, whose pay had been suspended, would refuse to attend a disciplinary hearing where the possibility existed that his pay and role might be restored. It was further submitted by the Complainant that the Respondent’s explanation for stopping the Complainant’s wages lacked credibility. The Complainant maintained that the disciplinary hearing and later appeal were undertaken to provide a ‘fig leaf’ to cover the lack of fair procedure and the predetermined nature of those proceedings. The Complainant concluded his submission by stating that the actions taken by that of the Respondent could not be considered reasonable of an employer.
The Respondent submitted that following a number of complaints received from colleagues of the Complainant, the Complainant was suspended with full pay on the 27th of December 2018 while the matter was further investigated. Some of these allegations included: Being in a hotel bedroom watching TV while on duty, taking naps while on his shift and using foul language to subordinate colleagues.
A disciplinary procedure was initiated, which ultimately ended in the Complainant’s dismissal for gross misconduct. The Respondent made specific reference to the exchange of communication between the parties in the period between the 19th of January 2019 and the 2nd of May 2019. According to the Respondent’s evidence, this communication shows that the Complainant attempted to avoid and disrupt the disciplinary process.
In particular, the Respondent referred to the multiple attempts made by them to make contact with the Complainant via mail, email, telephone and text. The Respondent contended that the Complainant failed to respond to any of these communications. The Respondent added that the disciplinary procedures were applied appropriately and fairly in this case. The Respondent submitted that the Complainant’s actions and failures left no alternative but to apply summary dismissal for gross misconduct and, therefore, there was no valid basis for his unfair dismissal claim.
Based on the evidence available, the Adjudication Officer concluded while the Complainants actions justified the Respondent in undertaking disciplinary action, there is an onus and responsibility on the Respondent to ensure that fair process is applied in reaching that conclusion and that the Complainant is provided with full access to an appropriate procedure which recognises and protect his rights in this regard. Having carefully considered all of the evidence adduced in this regard, the Adjudication Officer found that the Respondent failed to apply fair process or procedure in their termination of the Complainant’s employment and awarded the Complainant the sum of €1,600.00 in compensation for unfair dismissal. The Adjudication Officer also found that the Respondent made an unlawful deduction of wages from the Complainant and so awarded the Complainant the sum of €4,383.00.
This case outlines once again the importance of having a robust Disciplinary Policy in your business and sticking to the procedure for dealing with disciplinary issues. Failure to do so will invariably see your business in front of the WRC.