Claire McKevitt had worked for Dublin Bus as a bus driver since 2007. In 2014 the company decided that because of her health she was incapable of safely carrying out the role of bus driver and she was given involuntary early retirement on health grounds. The company had reached this decision after Ms McKevitt was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, which meant that she was at risk of suddenly losing consciousness. The risks inherent in a bus driver suffering from this condition are readily apparent.
Ms McKevitt challenged her dismissal and was awarded €17,500 after the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that her dismissal was unfair because Dublin Bus had failed to follow a fair procedure in a number of ways. Dublin Bus appealed this decision, but the Circuit Court also found in Ms McKevitt’s favour. However, it ruled the decision was unfair on only one ground and reduced Ms McKevitt’s compensation to €10,000.
Dublin Bus then took its appeal to the High Court, which has now found in the company’s favour and allowed the appeal.
This case clearly demonstrates the risks facing an employer when taking the decision to end the employment of a member of staff, even when the reasons for doing so seem incontrovertible.
Employers must have clear and legally compliant procedures in place and ensure they follow these procedures carefully when acting to dismiss an employee. If an employer is in any doubt over what action needs to be taken, they should always seek expert legal advice before proceeding.
To help employers, SOR has produced a useful guide – Dismissing Employees: Procedures & Pitfalls
Sherwin O’Riordan is a leading commercial law firm that offers comprehensive legal services to employers, to help them navigate the complex field of employment law. If you are concerned about how the laws governing dismissal apply to your business, please contact our team today.
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