SVP to pay compensation to employee 'bullied into quitting'

SVP to pay compensation to employee 'bullied into quitting'

Employee awarded six weeks' wages after WRC official adjudicating the case said SVP’s attitude to dealing with the employee’s bullying claims was 'striking' and 'frankly represents a form of neglect of their responsibilities to him as an employee'.

An employee of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) claims he was bullied into quitting a job after making allegations that other staff were involved in the “improper use of resources”.

The claim was made in a case for constructive dismissal against the charity with the Workplace Relations Commission.

Finding in his favour and awarding him six weeks' wages, the WRC official adjudicating the case said SVP’s attitude to dealing with the employee’s bullying claims was “striking” and “frankly represents a form of neglect of their responsibilities to him as an employee”.

Before his resignation, he lodged a formal complaint with SVP chiefs.

He claimed he was bullied in “retaliation” for raising issues.

Issues included “various allegations including improper uses of resources”.

An investigation was launched into his formal complaint but he left before it was concluded.

'Toxic environment'

This was because the workplace had become “a toxic environment” he told the WRC.

He referenced an incident during which he was “scolded like a schoolchild” by a senior member of staff.

He also claimed colleagues “ganged up on and bullied him”.

The now-former employee said he “begged for help” but in the end felt he had been left with no alternative but to leave.

The WRC adjudication officer said: “To be frank, expecting any unsupervised direct contact between the parties must have held a high degree of risk.

“In the circumstances, the failure to risk-assess the hazards identified by the complainant does not meet the requirement to ensure or be able to reassure an employee that they are facing into a safe place to work.

“Frankly, how anyone thought this was going to work without direct supervision is beyond comprehension.”

And she added: “In conclusion, it was reasonable of the complainant to terminate his contract of employment in circumstances where he was expected to work in an environment where his concerns about a safe place to work and potential hazards were not understood and crucially, were not addressed.”

Complaint well-founded

She concluded: "The complaint against the Society of St Vincent De Paul is well-founded."

SVP is to pay the former employee €2,875.74 in compensation.

The charity contended the complainant "voluntarily and prematurely resigned his position without influence from [it], [their] servants or agents".

And it said it had "engaged with the complainant thoroughly and throughout his employment" and had "demonstrated a most reasonable attitude throughout".

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