The Employment Relations Authority has recently decided that an employee sufficiently raised their personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal within the 90-day time frame.

The employer held a disciplinary meeting with the employee. During the meeting the employee was placed on suspension. She was sent a letter by the employer proposing she be summarily dismissed.

The employee was summarily dismissed via letter the following day. Between the disciplinary meeting and the employee’s dismissal, the employee sent multiple emails to the employer regarding her concerns.

The employee’s concerns included that it was not communicated to her in advance that the meeting would be a disciplinary one, the employer had not followed their own fair and reasonable processes, and she had not been provided with the allegations against her. She later mentioned that she would be seeking legal representation.

The Authority had to determine whether the employee had raised her personal grievance within the 90-day time frame. This fell to whether the employee had clearly raised a personal grievance claim with the employer.

The Authority noted that the raising of a personal grievance claim is informal and it is designed to be accessible. There is no specific wording that an employee must use to raise a personal grievance claim, but the substance of the complaint must be conveyed to the employer so that they can respond to it.

In this case, the employee had clearly stated that she intended to take legal action. The employee had also emailed the employer stating that she believed her employment had been terminated unlawfully and referred to her previous emails about her concerns.

The Authority determined that this was sufficient to raise a personal grievance. Correspondence can be read together in order to determine whether the employer has sufficient information regarding the reason for a personal grievance.

The employee had used terms such as “statutory obligations”, “personal grievance”, “intended legal action” and “terminated unlawfully”. Together, these were enough to raise a personal grievance claim and therefore the employee had raised her claim within the necessary time frame.

The Authority left the issue of whether the employee was unjustifiably dismissed for another time.

It is important to be aware of your obligations as an employer, especially when it comes to handling issues in an employment relationship. If you are confused about your obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors