Have you been penalised by your employer because you were a whistleblower about Health and Safety at work?
Most employers take their Health and Safety responsibilities seriously and act appropriately and conscientiously when an issue concerns health and safety are raised. Others, maybe not so much.
Our Client MOR worked for one of the World’s leading Pharmaceutical companies on the line, which manufactured stents for people with heart issues. MOR was vociferous about health and safety, his grandson had received a stent as a young boy, and he recognised that these were going into people’s bodies.
His employer praised him because of his attention to detail and regard for health and safety, but he did not enamour his work colleagues.
On several occasions, MOR had raised concerns about how some of his colleagues had done their work. Had they cut corners? Were they following procedures correctly? The result was that his work colleagues took against him.
They felt that he was not only causing them trouble but that if you followed all of the procedures to the letter, the view was that you wouldn’t be able to reach the targets set by the Company in productivity terms. The Company and our Client’s managers were also getting a bit browned off by what they viewed as our Client’s crusade.
MOR was subjected to a campaign of bullying and harassment, and when they couldn’t get him to leave, they simply dismissed him. Our Client had raised repeated issues about quality standards as well as grievances under the Dignity at Work policy about the bullying he was subjected to and while none of these issues raised by him ever resulted in any action against his co-workers (including a finding of bullying against one of them), our Client was dismissed for using the wrong cleaning solution when cleaning trays.
Clearly, he was someone that the employer needed gone! We pursued several claims on his behalf, including Unfair Dismissal, Safety Health and Welfare at Work and Protected Disclosure claims.
“I don’t know how I could have faced them if it wasn’t for Sean and Dan and the team at Employment Matters. They gave me the strength and resolve to take on this massive company and their fancy lawyers, and I have no doubt that my Employer regrets that they were so short-sighted. Most of all though I hope that this highlighted to them that matters like this need to be addressed properly and not simply brushed under the carpet”. MOR Tipperary
This is typical of where an employee finds themselves in difficulty. The concerns being raised are those that are uncomfortable for the employer as they impact productivity and profitability.
In a not dis-similar case, our Client PK was dismissed from a different Pharma company despite all of the evidence in his case conclusively showing that he was not guilty of any wrong-doing. PK had made a complaint of bullying towards his manager.
During the grievance hearing, one of PK’s colleagues said about our Client’s manager that “if he was in the army, he would have been shot in the back long ago”. Numerous other employees stated that they had seen our Client being bullied by his manager. Quite unbelievably, PK’s complaint was not upheld, and he was then sacked for making a false complaint against his manager. No investigation, no procedure, just summary dismissal.
Once again, our Client’s narrative did not suit the Employer. Our Client’s employer had such deep pockets it simply decided or had been advised to “just get rid of him”. His face no longer fit! They, however, weren’t quite prepared for what happened next.
Within a few days, they landed in the High Court, where we sought and achieved an injunction preventing the dismissal and restoring him to the workforce.
They ultimately had no choice but to do a deal with him to terminate his employment, but not before they realised the error of their ways and that you can’t just get rid of an employee in the manner they had chosen to do so.
“I have a young family and was shocked when I was told that I was sacked. Not just that, but I was being dismissed for gross misconduct despite all of the evidence to the contrary. If it wasn’t for Employment Matters, I don’t know what I would have done”. PK, Wicklow