Council to pay €10k over bullying report

Cork City Council has been told to pay €10,000 to two senior staff for failing to fully act on findings issued after their complaints of bullying against the assistant city manager were upheld.

The dispute relates to an alleged breach of the local authority’s dignity at work policy.

It arose after an independent investigator upheld claims of bullying made by two senior engineers against assistant city manager Dan Buggy.

Siptu claimed the council, through the city manager Tim Lucey, failed to accept the findings and thereby breached the terms of the dignity at work policy.

Siptu also claimed that a second breach occurred when one of the engineers was transferred, against his will, to a different section.

The union said the transfer gave his work colleagues the impression that he was guilty of some misdemeanour, rather than a victim in this case.

The council rejected the union’s claims “in their totality”.

Mr Lucey considered that it was not appropriate for any disciplinary action to be taken against Mr Buggy due mainly to the fact that his submission was not taken into account by the investigator who upheld the bullying complaints, prior to the publishing of his findings.

And he said the transfer of one of the engineers, one year after the dispute was first aired, was due solely to the rationalisation of senior management structures.

However, in its ruling, the Labour Court noted that council management had not challenged the original findings, and therefore had implicitly accepted them.

However, it said the council, based on legal advice which it declined to disclose to either the complainants or the court, chose to take no further action on foot of the findings.

This decision was not properly nor adequately explained to the complainants, the ruling said.

They are entitled to a proper explanation of the reasons for the actions management proposes to take on foot of the findings of the investigation, it added.

“Furthermore, there is an obligation on management to reassure them that action has been taken in respect of the individual involved and more generally that it will ensure that they never experience such treatment from a member of management again,” the ruling said.

The court also said it was satisfied that the context in which council management effected the transfer of one of the engineers rendered it “inappropriate and contrary” to the provisions of the dignity at work procedure.

It recommended that he be offered the opportunity to return to his former post.

It told the council to pay each engineer €5,000 compensation for its failure to complete the process of dealing with the complaints to completion, as required by the dignity at work policy.

Mr Buggy declined to comment last night. Mr Lucey was not available for comment.

The court further recommended that management, in consultation with trade unions, take steps to restore confidence in its capacity to deal effectively with complaints of bullying in a fair and effective manner.


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