Redundancy – Why You Lose Even if You Win

My client worked for a multinational company. My interpretation of events is that the multinational decided to employ an independent contractor to do my client’s job because in doing so they would save a substantial sum each year. They therefore made my client redundant. My client sued because he wanted his job back and he quite reasonably thought that as the company in question had a number of branches nationwide, he could be moved to another position within the company if his case succeeded.

NO REINSTATEMENT

For a variety of reasons the case took nearly four years to come up for hearing in the EAT and subsequently when it was appealed to the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court found one hundred percent in my client’s favour and said that the multinational had acted disgracefully. They awarded my client the maximum the court could award, which was two years loss of income. At that stage however, he had already lost four years of income. The court was not however prepared to give him the only remedy he was really looking for, which was reinstatement. All my client wanted was his job back and because the court found entirely in his favour, he thought there would be no difficulty with this. However, it is in only 2% or fewer cases that reinstatement or re-engagement is actually awarded and this to me is an outrage. The courts argue that the employer-employee relationship is a relationship of trust and it would be impractical to expect an employer to reinstate an employee in circumstances following the institution of legal proceedings. That may be the case in smaller companies but not in the case of a multinational where another job could be provided.

The plaintiff in this case won but it is now six years since he was unfairly and cynically dismissed and he remains at home, unable to find alternative employment and struggling to look after his family and pay his mortgage.

YOU LOSE EVEN IF YOU WIN

The moral of the story here is that if you are a multinational and you want to cut a few overheads, you can dismiss whoever you want knowing that the worst that can happen is that you will have to pay two years’ loss of income. Between pensions and wages, you could save many hundreds of thousands of euro doing this. This is all because of the courts and the EAT’s reluctance to consider reinstatement or re-engagement.

Effectively, even if the employee wins, he loses.

Kevin Brophy

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