The Employment Relations Authority has not upheld an employee’s personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal after finding that the employee’s conduct amounted to serious misconduct.

The employee raised the claim after a client became aggressive with her repeatedly. The client was in a heightened mental state, and the employee was attempting to escort the client to the hospital.

In the process of escorting the client, the employee was repeatedly lunged at and was grabbed twice. The employee stated that his made her feel extremely uncomfortable, which she reported to her manager at the time. She also informed her manager that she was not willing to be alone with the client given his previous conduct.

After arriving at the hospital, the employee was again left alone with the client. Having been lunged at repeatedly, the employee struck the client with force.

The employer organised a meeting to allow the employee to explain her actions. At this meeting the employee was suspended with pay, whilst the employer conducted further investigation.

A week later, the employer informed the employee that the investigation had finished and that their conduct constituted serious misconduct. This led to the employee’s dismissal and subsequent claim to the Authority.

The Authority decided that the employer had conducted a proper and thorough investigation and that they were right in their conclusion that the employee’s conduct met the standard of serious misconduct. The employer had a strict code of conduct in place, which the employee breached when she struck the client. This breach was sufficient to justify a finding of serious misconduct, and the Authority dismissed the claim accordingly. It was also decided that the employer had not failed in their duty to the employee by leaving them alone with the client.

If there is confusion around the correct dismissal process, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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