A redundant account manager was given without warning via a ten-minute remote meeting of Microsoft Teams during the Covid-19 shutdown, and was given €120,000 for unfair dismissal by redundancy.
This follows a request by the Employment Relations Commission (WRC) arbitrator, Catherine Byrne, of financial and IT services company, Econocom Digital Finance Ltd, to pay Ray Walsh €120,000 for his unfair dismissal by redundancy in July 2020.
Ray Walsh was told at a Microsoft Teams ‘Ireland Team Meeting’ by the Director General of Ireland and the United Kingdom on April 27, 2020 that he was being laid off due to the closure of Irish sales operations.
Mr Walsh told WRC that he had tried to obtain an explanation for the decision but could not build an argument in response to what he had been told.
Ms Byrne found that Mr. Walsh had been unfairly dismissed after concluding that no evidence had been provided by the Irish arm of the international information technology and financial services provider that Mr. Walsh had made any contribution to his dismissal.
Mrs. Byrne asked the company to pay Mr. Walsh €120,000, and said it had taken into account the excess lump-sum which Walsh had received €19,152.
Mr. Walsh has been with the company since 2004 and by April 2020 he was an account manager with an annual salary of just over €120,000.
His position became redundant on July 31, 2020 as a result of the closing of the sales operation at the company’s office in Dublin.
Mr Walsh described his dismissal for redundancy as a « hoax ».
He said he speaks fluent Spanish and Italian and was open to moving to another country to continue working with Econocom.
Mr. Walsh stated that he was receiving a job seeker allowance of €203 per week from August 1, 2020 until April 2021.
He said he applied for about 37 jobs and started in a new position 54 weeks after his dismissal, on August 16, 2021 and now earns a base salary of €60,000 and is eligible for commission on sales.
In a letter to the company in April 2020, Walsh described the company’s offer of legal redundancy as absurd and undervalued, especially for a company of the size of Econocom of around €3 billion annually.
The company said the higher costs associated with the Dublin business, and declining pre-tax earnings since 2017 mean the sales process involving account managers cannot continue.
However, in her findings Ms. Byrne found that in the manner in which Mr. Walsh’s employment had been terminated, the company had departed from the standard of reasonableness which a reasonable employer would have shown when dealing with an employee in similar circumstances.
Mrs. Byrne found it disrespectful to Mr. Walsh to call him to a meeting without warning on the matter, and to declare his post redundant.
Ms Byrne also found that no credible explanation was given for the managers’ decision not to engage with Mr. Walsh to determine a suitable replacement role, or to extend his notice until he could find another job.
Mr Walsh’s attorney, Alistair Purdy, told WRC that regardless of whether the redundancy in his job was a valid redundancy, the manner in which it was done was entirely inconsistent with Mr. Walsh’s right to due process.
Mr. Purdy said that no actions had been implemented by the company and no consultation had taken place with Mr. Walsh prior to the date on which the park leave began on June 22, 2020.
He also stated that there had been no consideration of the possibility of a replacement role and, finally, there was no appeal to the decision to make Mr. Walsh’s job redundant.
The company told WRC that laying off the role of Mr. Walsh was inevitable in circumstances where the sales operation in Ireland is closed.
The company stated that dismissing Mr. Walsh on the grounds of redundancy was not unfair.
The company stated that there was no selection process to consider and no suitable alternative job he could have been appointed to.
In a letter to Mr Walsh, the company told him that annual sales in 2017 in Ireland were 2.99 million euros with a net profit of 351,000 euros and by 2019 sales were 4.7 million euros but profit was zero.
« The significant higher costs of a non-revenue business mean this is not a sustainable model and is therefore subject to shutdown, » the company told Mr Walsh.
« Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante. »
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