Tuesday 23 July 2019

Technician having heart attack told to keep working

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Gordon Deegan

An 'indifferent' employer told a senior technician to keep working after the staff member told him he was experiencing chest pains and may be having a heart attack.

The following day, on June 27, 2017, the worker continued to feel unwell and was rushed to hospital, where it was confirmed by medics that he had in fact suffered a heart attack.

The employer came to visit the man while he was in hospital and told him his job was secure.

However, just over four weeks after the man was admitted to hospital, the man's employer served redundancy notice on him and he was subsequently replaced at his workplace after having his employment terminated on August 11, 2017.

The worker was seriously ill and had stents inserted and was required to undergo an intensive rehabilitation, which continued until January 2018.

The man had worked for the business since April 2013. At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), adjudication officer Pat Brady ordered the employer to pay the man €35,000 after finding he had suffered a discriminatory dismissal under the Employment Equality Acts.

Mr Brady found the worker was suffering with a disability at the time of his dismissal and he stated that the decision to dismiss the worker on discriminatory grounds "was a particularly insensitive act in the circumstances".

He said: "It is of course permitted to fairly terminate employment on the basis of 'capacity'; but not after the passage of a mere few weeks, or without a proper and fair procedure, and not under the 'cloak of redundancy'."

Mr Brady said that there was no credible alternative explanation for the dismissal other than the employer decided in view of the employee's illness and likely extended rehabilitation process to terminate his employment.

Mr Brady found that at no stage before or after the worker suffered a heart attack was there any reference to the possibility of redundancy, nor was there any discussions of the options normally associated with redundancy.

Mr Brady stated that no redundancy payment was made to the man and it appears there were no other redundancies.

The worker had not lodged his claim until April 2018. He explained the delay by furnishing a medical cert to the effect that the worker was 'medically unfit to contemplate any form of litigation' and that he had not been 'in a fit state of mind due to emotional upset and anxiety to contemplate proceedings'.

The employer did not attend the hearing and a representative wrote to the WRC following the hearing to state that the company had since ceased trading.

Irish Independent

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