€10,200 in constructive dismissal damages must be paid by to a long-time Bus Éireann driver following a ruling made by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The bus driver in question, Dan Fitzpatrick, told the hearing that he has been left ‘deeply traumatised’ over the way he was constructively dismissed by Bus Éireann. Mr Fitzpatrick had been employed by Bus Eireann for 16 years, working in the Galway region. The company informed him that he would need to step down from his role or face being terminated due to an incident involving an old-aged passenger in November 2017.
In that incident Mr Fitzpatrick stated that he escorted the passenger off a Galway city route bus service due to a heated exchange of words and repeated requests from Mr Fitzpatrick for the man to depart the bus. Once the man was off the bus Mr Fitzpatrick returned to his driver’s seat and drove off.
The next day, Mr Fitzpatrick was called into his line manager’s office where he viewed three different CCTV recording of what took place and was immediately suspended pending a subsequent disciplinary hearing.
He was informed that if he chose to remain in his position and be fired and he would have no longer have qualified for his €10,000 to €15,000 gratuity upon retirement. Due to this he retired on November 27, 2017, after what he told the WRC was “a flawed and unfair disciplinary investigation” conducted by Bus Éireann. He then filed a claim for constructive dismissal damages under the Unfair Dismissals Act with the WRC.
WRC Adjudication Officer, Ray Flaherty said at the hearing that Mr Fitzpatrick had no choice but to step down when he was informed that a failure to do so would lead to him not qualifying for his retirement gratuity. He also referred to the gratuity ultimatum to Mr Fitzpatrick as “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
As part of his ruling, Mr Flaherty said that comments made to Mr Fitzpatrick by a supervisor that “there is no excuse for this behaviour” in the incident and “you will never work in the company again” backed up Mr Fitzpatrick’s claim that fair and just process was not followed.
Bus Éireann did not appear at the WRC oral hearing but a Bus Éireann representative stated: “Bus Éireann do not comment on individual cases and we have no further comment”.