A social media firm should pay €30,000 to a human resources officer who was "traumatised" after being sacked while on probation, the Workplace Relations Commission has advised.

The official in charge of the case said that by failing to offer a right of appeal to a probationary employee, the firm had failed to provide fair procedures.

He added that he found the worker "so traumatised she cannot represent what happened to her at an oral hearing".

As the worker's complaint was lodged under the Industrial Relations Act, the hearing last month was convened in private, and the parties were anonymised in the decision published this morning.

The worker, who represented herself in the case, informed the tribunal she had left a "permanent and secure" role to join the social media company in January 2021.

The tribunal heard she was sacked after raising a grievance over aspects of a performance review in May that year and that the grievance gave rise to her sacking.

The tribunal heard her sacking at the end of May 2021 followed a performance review during her probationary period.

The worker’s position was that the decision to sack her was "unreasonable and shocking" and that she was left "traumatised by the decision".

The company had found "no fundamental problem in her work performance" and that the matters raised by her line manager "did not warrant termination", she said in her submissions.

To punish her "in the severest way possible for raising a grievance when the company espoused an open culture is unconscionable and has caused profound upset, hurt and trauma", she added.

Kevin Bell BL, appearing for the unnamed social media firm instructed by solicitor Hayley Maher of DLA Piper, said the worker's performance was "satisfactory" but "the mid term review and over reaction to genuine feedback gave rise to the decision to terminate the contract as the failure to take constructive feedback was a real concern for the company".

He said the issue which emerged in the performance review was "resistance and denial that any improvement existed at all".

"This is not a basis to conduct a credible review," he said, adding: "The failure to take constructive feedback was a real concern for the company."

Mr Bell added that the company had exercised its right to end the contract during the probationary period.

In his decision, adjudicating officer Brian Dalton wrote that it was "concerning" that a "satisfactory" employee was dismissed for raising concerns about the review process, and that there had been no right of appeal for an employee on probation.

He wrote that the Labour Court recognised an employer’s right not to keep a worker on if found to be "unsuitable for permanent employment" during their probation – but that this could only be done with a "strict" adherence to fair procedures.

He added that the statutory code of conduct on employee disciplinary and grievance matters required "rational and fair" procedures with well-defined penalties and an internal appeal mechanism.

He also noted that the worker was "so traumatised she cannot represent what happened to her at an oral hearing".

Mr Dolan said in view of the effects of the process on the worker and the "absence of fair procedures" he recommended compensation of €30,000, a sum equivalent to six months’ salary.

He also urged the firm to revise its grievance procedures so that they align with the code of practice set out by the WRC’s predecessor organisation.