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WRC Orders Maximum Award to University Professor for Unfair Dismissal

posted 2 weeks ago

In Wim Naude v University College Cork (ADJ-00042625), the Complainant brought a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (the “WRC”) under section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 against the Respondent university. The Adjudicator, Lefre de Burgh, awarded the Complainant €300,000, the third highest award granted to an individual Complainant by the WRC, for his unfair dismissal without warning by the Respondent.

Facts: The Complainant was hired as a Professor of Economics by the Respondent in January 2021. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Complainant began his role teaching remotely from the Netherlands, where he was based at that time. From January 2022, the Complainant worked in a “blended format” – he attended the campus for one week each month and worked remotely for the rest of each month, with a view to relocating to Cork to work on campus full-time in the near future. In July 2022, the Complainant had a meeting with the Head of the Business School in the Respondent university and informed him that he was having difficulties securing suitable accommodation for him and his family in Cork. In an attempt to resolve the issue, the Complainant wrote to the Respondent in July 2022 and suggested that he continue working as normal in the “blended format”, or else take a reduction in hours. On 8th August 2022, the Complainant received a response to this from Mr Barry O’Brien, the Respondent’s HR Director, dismissing him without warning:

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