The employer outlined that as the Complainant had previously been a member of the golf club and a lot of their members knew the Complainant, they felt his position was untenable as he would not be able to enforce the required club regulations. The employer also sought to rely on the probationary period clause in the contract of employment which allowed for dismissal without notice in the first 13 weeks of employment (even though the contract was never issued to the Complainant).
The Complainant responded to say that his previous club membership was fully known prior to him starting work and had been mentioned at his interview. The Complainant also said his ex wife had been a member of the Club and winner of the President's prize.
The adjudicator determined that it was not plausible that the employer was unaware of the Complainant's former membership of the Club and indeed should have verified it at the recruitment stage if it was of such significance and they had failed to follow a clear selection procedure in this regard. The adjudicator was also not impressed that the employer was seeking to reply on a a contract of employment that never actually issued to the Complainant and stressed the need for fairness in the employment relationship, and particularly in this case where the Respondent had been put in a difficult position through no fault of his own. The Adjudicator found that the Complainant had been unfairly dismissed and awarded €4,000 compensation.
Employers should take note of the following learning points from this case:
- Ensure that interviewers specify role requirements clearly at outset of selection process and assess fairly against the job requirements;
- Always issue contracts of employment prior to employees commencing employment;
- Use the probationary clause fairly as there is rarely a legitimate reason for an immediate dismissal without notice and some due process must be followed regardless of length of service; and
- Be aware that there are remedies available to employees who do not have the requisite 12 months service to take an unfair dismissal claim.