AN EMPLOYEE AT a property management firm whose former managing director claimed she did “a crap job at running” the company after she was bullied and harassed by clients has been awarded €12,500 for unfair dismissal.
The woman took a case against her former employer to the Workplace Relations Commission after her contract was terminated by the company in July 2017.
At her hearing, the woman, who worked as the company’s administrator, said she had worked with “commitment and passion” and had “an unblemished employment history”, enjoying the challenges she faced in the job.
However, she revealed that her work became more challenging during the economic downturn, when many landlords who were clients of the company went into receivership.
Between October 2015 and March 2016, several disputes arose between some landlords and the directors of the company, who included the woman’s brother and father.
The disputes centered on the ownership and control of the company, as well as the ownership of some apartments within the complex it managed.
The woman said that during the course of these disputes, staff at the company, including her, were subjected to “repeated and continuous undue stress and harassment and intimidation” by some of the apartments’ owners.
She also told the WRC that a number of “serious allegations” were made against her by two landlords, who were the owners of the majority of the units in the complex.
“I wholly and absolutely disputed and denied the allegations being made against me and I continue to do so,” she said in her submission.
Eventually, two members of staff at the company quit, while the woman informed one of the directors that the stress was becoming “too much” for her.
Although another director advised her to leave for the sake of her health, the company’s managing director insisted he could not maintain the complex and deal with the landlords without her, so the woman continued her job.
However, in June 2016, the woman was told by another individual that he was in control of the company and that her contract had been terminated, which she claims was done without due process or explanation.
When no formal notice of termination or P45 was issued to her, the woman continued to work for the company.
The managing director also informed her that he was fighting the individual for ownership and control of the company, as well as for the apartments that it managed.
However, in October 2016, the managing director and another director were formally removed from the company and replaced by the individual who was now in control.
High Court proceedings were issued against the woman by the individual controlling the company, who was also the owner of a substantial number of the apartments under its control, over the ongoing dispute.
In July 2017, the woman took a leave of absence to undergo knee surgery, but while she was formally out of the office recuperating, the alarm in the company’s office went off.
When she checked the company’s CCTV cameras remotely, she observed that the former managing director had forced entry into the offices of the company and physically taken back control of the offices without notice.
She said that this happened shortly after the former managing director had agreed a deal with the individual for ownership and control of the company, and a substantial majority of the apartments in the complex.
The former managing director subsequently notified all staff that their contracts had been terminated, and expressed to two staff members that the woman had been “doing a crap job at running the Company” and “ran it into the ground”.
Once again, the woman said that no formal procedure was entered into when she was sacked, nor had she been given any formal notice or explanation for her termination.
She also claimed that the former managing director continued to “disparage and besmirch” her good name, reputation and character to third parties after her termination, including other landlords in the complex.
“I was deeply upset, hurt and distressed by the former managing director’s behaviour,” the woman said in her submission.
The woman continued to seek a P45 from the company between the time she was sacked and November 2017, during which she claims the company’s accountants told her they were “under serious pressure” from the former managing director not to give her one.
The woman finally received her P45 in November 2017, but received no payments for her unlawful sacking or for her position being made redundant, and took her case to the WRC under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977.
The property management did not attend the hearing.
An adjudicator for the WRC found that because the woman’s version of events was the only version he could rely on, he found that her dismissal was “unfair and unreasonable” and awarded her €12,500.