A widow of a senior manager who took his own life has won her battle against a Dublin-based investment management company concerning her late husband’s unfair dismissal.
This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer Penelope McGrath ordering the company to pay the woman who took the successful unfair dismissal case on behalf of her late husband’s estate €41,000.
Ms McGrath found that the woman’s late husband, the Head of Product Management was unfairly dismissed by the company in June 2018.
The ‘chronically depressed’ man died nine months later in March 2019 when he took his own life.
The WRC hearing heard that the man had been receiving treatment for his depression.
In her ruling, Ms McGrath stated that she accepted that a genuine redundancy situation existed concerning the Head of Product Management when the company made him redundant in June 2018.
She added, however: “But I also accept that there is an obligation on the employer to demonstrate a fairness in reaching the decision of why a redundancy situation exists and who should be selected for that redundancy.
It does not always follow that the individual with the largest salary should be made redundant.
Ms McGrath stated that she was making a finding that this was an unfair dismissal due to the “woefully inadequate procedures applied in processing a selection for redundancy”.
Ms McGrath stated that there was no evidence to suggest that the deceased was ever put on formal notice that his job was at risk, was never offered alternative employment and was never allowed to make alternative proposals or in any other way justify his retention.
Ms McGrath stated that the man was recruited by the Irish company in 2016 to expand into the lucrative London market and create a "pipeline" of opportunity-seeking investors willing to engage the company.
Ms McGrath accepted that there was a genuine redundancy situation.
She accepted that evidence of the company CEO that after a period of nearly two years the strategy of trying to break into the London market was proving too difficult to sustain.
She stated that the CEO went to great lengths to state that this was not a reflection of the deceased’s hard work and ability to connect but had more to do with the product he was promoting which simply could not gain traction in this highly competitive field and marketplace.
Ms McGrath stated that at the end of two years with an investment of €500,000 already made, she recognised that the company was entitled to implement a closure of the London office.
The deceased man split his work life between London and Dublin. He continued to maintain his marital home in London, but also rented a fully equipped apartment in Dublin to allow for the commuting he was expected to do as part of his employment.