A Government department has been ordered to pay a former senior civil servant €40,878 compensation for his unfair dismissal.
This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Michael McEntee, finding that the dismissal of the Government department Executive Officer on August 9th 2019 "did not meet the highest standards of Natural Justice, quite possibly inadvertently, which the gravity of the situation required".
The Executive Officer was dismissed on the grounds of serious misconduct after the then Secretary General of the Department set aside a recommendation by the Civil Service Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB) that instead of dismissal, the civil servant be demoted from executive to clerical grade.
As part of his case, the former civil servant contended that "the overturning of a DAB finding was extraordinary and almost unprecedented across the entire Civil Service".
The ex-civil servant further submitted that dismissal "was a completely disproportionate penalty and especially when dismissal had been set aside as a penalty by the DAB - the ultimate and highest procedural venue of the Civil Service Disciplinary Code".
The former civil servant further argued that the dismissal process engaged in by the Secretary General "was in flagrant breach of all the rules of Natural Justice".
He further submitted that the then Secretary General did not afford the worker an opportunity to further state his case, especially when the ultimate penalty of dismissal was being imposed.
The civil servant commenced employment on September 1st 2006 in another Government Department and his employment ended on September 16th 2019.
Prior to the man's promotion to Executive Officer in 2016, the man had worked with the Revenue Commissioners where said that he was highly thought of and never the subject of any adverse complaint.
In his findings, Mr McEntee said "there cannot be any fault attached" to the Secretary General in the case.
He said: "It was a structural issue that was at fault - one person, albeit the most Senior Departmental Officer, should not have been asked, bearing in mind all the possible Natural Justice complications, to make this decision which was, essentially, overturning a Disciplinary Appeals Board finding."
In his evidence, the former Secretary General vigorously maintained that the dismissal decision was his alone and that he had not been subject to any external pressures or lobbying.
The ex-Secretary General said that he had not felt it necessary to have further discussion with the worker post the DAB ruling as the worker's views and that of his union, FÓRSA, were well recorded on all the paperwork.
The former Secretary General had classified the actions of the complainant as "serious misconduct" as the actions were very detrimental to the proper and efficient running of the Department.
In response to the claim that the dismissal decision was disproportionate, it was the Secretary General's view that the worker was not going to achieve the required standards at either the Clerical or Executive Grade and that dismissal was the only proper option.
The Secretary General also stated that he had come to the view that the worker had serious performance flaws in regard to accepting proper authority from superiors and following accepted work routines and procedures to achieve accepted outcomes in a reasonably efficient manner.
The Secretary General stated that on overall balance it was his view that the continued employment of the worker was not in the best interests of the Civil Service and he had decided to opt for the dismissal decision.