A lawyer representing a whistleblower in the Irish Prison Service has called prison management to engage in mediation with his client following a finding that his client had been penalised as a result of making a protected disclosure.
The Workplace Relations Commission directed the Irish Prison Service to pay €30,000 to a whistleblower as a result of the penalisation.
The prison officer made a number of complaints of penalisation to the WRC. A number, relating to rostering and workplace issues were not upheld. However, the most serious issue, relating to a potential security threat to the complainant was upheld.
In its ruling on 8 March, the WRC described the incident as "extremely serious".
In February 2015, the prison officer was notified by local gardaí that they were investigating a report by a member of the public that he and his wife had been filmed in suspicious circumstances at a local shopping centre.
The prison officer alerted the prison authorities of the incident.
He told them that he would be taking security precautions and that the incident was a source of considerable stress to him and his wife.
The officer wrote to management on a number of occasions seeking an update on the investigation.
However, he was not made aware until August 2016 that the investigation into the filming incident had been concluded over a year earlier and had found he was not at risk.
The prison authorities were made aware of the conclusion of the investigation 14 months earlier in April 2015.
The WRC ruling found that the withholding of information from the officer constituted penalisation and was linked to the making of a protected disclosure: "I find the failure of management to inform the complainant, despite his very clear cogent description of the affects (sic) of the matter on his family constituted unfair treatment of the complainant as provided for in the definition of penalisation in Section 3(1) (e). I conclude that there was a link to his protected disclosure."
The prison officer's solicitor Andrew Cody told RTÉ Radio 1’s 'This Week' programme that the failure to inform his client had "a huge impact" on his client and his wife, who was suffering from anxiety and high blood pressure during the period.
According to the ruling, the Irish Prison Service did not initially accept that the prison officer had made a protected disclosure during the WRC hearing, a stance it later changed.
In statements to RTÉ News, both the Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service said the IPS is considering appealing the ruling to the Labour Court and would not comment further.
The prison officer's case was previously the subject of an External Review by Judge (Retd) William Early, as revealed by RTÉ's This Week programme last May.
Judge Early also found that the prison officer was "penalised" and "isolated" by the prison service after he made a protected disclosure about the use of resources within one of the country's prisons.
Neither the Department of Justice nor the Irish Prison Service would say whether they accepted the Early Review.
Mr Cody also told RTÉ’s 'This Week' that his client has raised further concerns, including complaints of assault by another member of staff and other workplace issues, which he may seek to bring to the WRC.
"He really doesn't want to be going with repeated complaints and he would like a process put in place (so) that all of these could be resolved," Mr Cody said.
"They (the IPS) won't meet with us, they won't go to mediation and that is inexplicable: Their own circular says they must consider mediation, but in this case it has been flatly refused."
The IPS has told 'This Week' that it is considering appealing the €30,000 award.
In a statement it said it was "currently giving consideration to the ruling of the Workplace Relations Commission which was received on the 8 March, 2018 and as to whether the matter will be appealed to the Labour Court."