A manager at a Mullingar car sales firm, given one day’s notice because of the downturn after 11 years of “uneventful” employment, was awarded €3,000 at the most recent sitting of the employment appeals tribunal in Mullingar.
Sean Duggan, of Greenpark Meadows, Mullingar, started working at Grange Motors in Lough Sheever Corporate Park, Robinstown, Mullingar, in 1997. He had worked his way up to the position of parts manager in the after sales section by 2008, with a parts assistant reporting to him.
On October 20, 2008 Mr Duggan was summoned to a meeting with three directors of Grange Motors where he was told that his position was being declared redundant due to a downturn in the business.
Mr Duggan was told his duties were to be shared between his parts assistant and an after sales director. He left the job that day and received his statutory entitlements.
However, two months later he noticed that his former parts assistant was now described as parts manager on the company’s website.
It was established at the tribunal there had been no agreed procedure, nor any existing custom and practice at the company covering the selection of candidates for redundancy.
Mr Duggan contended that either there was a sham redundancy or that he had been unfairly selected for redundancy because, in the previous year he had received a full monthly bonus on nine occasions and a partial bonus on three occasions.
Grange Motors’ position was that due to the serious downturn in the motor trade there had to be changes made and because of the number of vehicles in stock which had to be sold, it was not appropriate to reduce sales staff at the time, reductions having since been made in that area.
The naming of the parts assistant as parts manager was an error on the part of their web designer that was corrected as soon as it was brought to their attention.
The tribunal, under the chair of Mr D MacCarthy SC, was satisfied that there was a genuine redundancy situation existing at Grange Motors on October 20, 2008 and that Mr Duggan was not unfairly selected for redundancy.
However, it also found that the conduct of Grange Motors in this case was such as to make the dismissal unfair in regard to the manner in which Mr Duggan was notified of his redundancy and further, by the error made on the website.
In these circumstances the tribunal awarded €3,000 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007.