Industrial Tribunal Decision – Redundancy or Unfair Dismissal?

Industrial Tribunal Decision – Redundancy or Unfair Dismissal?

On the 3rd April 2014, in the employment matter Antonella Mamo and Office Group Limited, the Industrial Tribunal decided the case in favour of the applicant on the grounds that her dismissal was unfair.

Summary of Facts of the Case

The applicant was engaged with Office Group Limited (“OGL”) as an “Assistant to the Director”.  The Director in question was Robert Micallef, son of Anthony Micallef, the Managing Director and owner of OGL. Robert Micallef resigned from his position as Director in April 2011.  OGL claimed that as a direct consequence of the said resignation, Ms Mamo’s employment was terminated on the grounds of redundancy, since no other director was appointed to replace Mr Micallef and therefore her position as “Assistant to Director” was no longer required. On her part Ms Mamo claimed that her redundancy was merely an excuse to “get rid” of her due to other circumstances which had no legal basis.

From evidence produced before the Industrial Tribunal, it resulted that:

  • Ms Mamo’s duties did not relate solely to secretarial work but also other duties such as logistics, client complaints, product orders and deliveries and also HR administrative duties;
  • Ms Mamo had a personal relationship with Robert Micallef and even though the relationship ended in 2010, she maintained her role as assistant;
  • As the relationship between father and son started deteriorating, so did the relationship between Ms Mamo and Anthony Micallef and he addressed her inappropriately on various occasions;
  • Upon Robert Micallef’s resignation, his duties were taken over by OGL’s Manager and Ms Mamo carried on performing her previous functions, save for secretarial work;
  • OGL’s Manager issued a number of warnings which were duly contested by Ms Mamo;
  • Following her termination of employment certain duties were assigned to a clerk who was employed after Ms Mamo;
  • Ms Mamo’s termination resulted following an incident at work whereby she was accused of passing on office information to Robert Micallef pursuant to his resignation.

Conclusion

Based on the above-mentioned considerations the Tribunal decided that the reasons given by OGL for Ms Mamo’s termination were not genuine and that she was dismissed for reasons other than redundancy which were not valid at law. The Tribunal also considered OGL’s claim that if Ms Mamo’s employment was not terminated on the grounds of redundancy, she would have been dismissed anyway on account of other disciplinary reasons.  In this regard the Tribunal concluded that no such grounds existed and that at the time of termination of Ms Mamo’s employment there were no pending disciplinary issues against her.  Moreover upon examination of the previous warnings given to Ms Mamo, these were deemed to be invalid due to the fact that Ms Mamo was not granted the opportunity to defend herself in respect of the accusations made against her.

In conclusion, the Industrial Tribunal decided that Ms Mamo’s dismissal was unfair and ordered OGL to settle compensation equivalent to the sum of Eur4,000.

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