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Suing employer (Private Sector, White Collar Employee)

  • 13-05-2024 7:45pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5

    Professionals working in multinational corporations in Ireland might have authentic and inauthentic reasons for suing their employer across a range of areas (e.g. bullying, harassment, personal injury, unfair dismissal etc)

    Regardless of the authenticity of the reason for suing an employer it would be interesting to ponder the 4 questions below. What are your thoughts on these questions?

    Q1. Will future career prospects be damaged for a professional if they sue their employer (multinational company)?

    (For this question, ignore the fact that legally employers cannot retaliate against employees who sue. The indirect ways in which retaliation can occur are more pertinent here.)

    Q2. Will the professional who sues their employer develop a 'dangerous' reputation (even if unjustified) which could hamper their ability to be employed at another multinational company in the same sector (e.g. Big Tech, Financial, Pharma etc) ?

    Q3. As a professional, is suing your employer actually worth it in terms of all the hidden legal/miscellaneous costs and potential reputational costs such a coarse of action brings?

    Q4. Are legal representatives generally just focused on winning the case at hand and not too concerned about the career consequences for their client after the case has been won?



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,921 ✭✭✭kirving

    1. Yes, 100%. Anyone who tells you otherwise is at best naive.
    2. Depends on how big the industry in Ireland is.
    3. Depends on how much you win, if you win.
    4. Depends on the person.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Clepsis Fucana

    RE your point No. 2,

    For example purposes:

    41 year old middle manager (single mother), with good future career prospects in current company or other companies, in tech industry in Dublin sues employer. It is a bona fide highly winnable case to compensate for wrong doing against the employee.

    Although the sector is a significant industry in terms of number of employees in Ireland (>100,000) it is a tight knit community nonetheless, particularly in Dublin. People naturally talk, chinese whispers etc.

    RE your point No. 3,

    For example purposes:

    Expected award before all legal/misc expenses - €40,000

    Expected award after all expenses - €30,000

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,153 ✭✭✭herbalplants

    Exactly small industry, people talk and your prospects will go down in future.

    Living the life

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Clepsis Fucana

    Exactly, it would be a different scenario if the person in this example was approaching the end of their career and did not have to think about their future.

  • Registered Users Posts: 225 ✭✭Ted222

    You can make a complaint to the WRC either by yourself or with the assistance of a solicitor or HR/IR consultant. It’s not “suing” as such but it is the primary means through which employee disputes are adjudicated upon.

    Adjudication decisions are generally made public but are sometimes anonymised.

    In advance of adjudication, both parties can agree to mediation administered by the WRC. If matters are resolved at that stage, the settlement remains private and no details of the complaint are made public. It is therefore generally in the interests of both parties to resolve disputes at this stage. Both parties need to be open to rowing back on their preferred outcome.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Clepsis Fucana

    Thank you for sharing the information related to the WRC.

    Does the 'penalty' issued to the employer by the WRC correspond to a fine or a payout to the employmee or just a simple apology from the employer to the employee?

    Can you use this WRC mechanism for bullying, harassment, personal injury, unfair dismissal etc?

    If the WRC finding is rejected by either party, does the case then progress to the circuit court?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,460 ✭✭✭caviardreams

    Can be a payout of up to two years salary equal to loss of earnings - you can take any claim under the relevant employment acts

    Would recommend speaking to a soilicitor and finding out if you have a case and what the cost might be - probably an hour (400 euro + vat) well spent

  • Registered Users Posts: 225 ✭✭Ted222

    The WRC may be used for alleged breach of any piece of employment legislation, including all those you mentioned. There is a deadline of six months from the date of the alleged breach within which them complaint must be submitted.

    The outcome of mediation where it occurs depends on what you’re seeking relative to what the employer is willing to give. It’s a negotiated settlement.

    The outcome of adjudication is decided upon by the Adjudicating Officer, taking into account the actions of the employer relative to whatever pieces of legislation are relevant. If the employer is found to be in breach, a suffice. There would be some financial settlement but, in the vast majority of cases it won’t make anyone rich. Awards of two year’s’ salary are rarely made.

    Be wary of solicitors who tell you you need a barrister. If the solicitor is worth his/her salt, they can give you all the advice and guidance you need. The WRC doesn’t operate like normal courts where barristers may be a requirement. You can represent yourself if you feel so inclined.

    There is no award of costs in the WRC or Labour Court so the only financial outlay is whatever consultancy costs you incur yourself.

    Either party may appeal the WRC Decision to the Labour Court.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,331 ✭✭✭✭jimmycrackcorm

    »Q1. Will future career prospects be damaged for a professional if they sue their employer (multinational company)?

    It will largely depend on the circumstances. If it is viewed as totally justifiable then it won't really affect future career prospects. For example Sexual harassment cases will be viewed in a favourable light.

    The problem comes where an employee might win a case but on the grounds that the employer didn't follow the proper procedure. Then, the reasons that they were brought up for disciplinary action will come to light and often don't make the employee look good.

  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭StormForce13

    Bear in mind that the employer may decide to appeal to the High Court meaning more delay, more stress, and the risk (however slight) of the appeal being upheld.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,764 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Worked in Tech most of my working life I can count on one hand the number times I've crossed paths with previous colleagues.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,788 ✭✭✭griffin100

    Any issue might arise if your WRC or civil case is reported in the media and then becomes a matter of public record that be found with a google search. This might put a prospective employer off if they see this, and let’s be honest most of us will google a potential hire before we interview.

    Interestingly I’m down to the last 2/3 for a senior public sector role and I’ve been asked for permission for an online / social media search about me to be done by a specialist company on behalf of the employer. I’ve worked in the public service for 20 years and have never seen this before.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,764 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,651 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    I know of one case from more than twenty years ago where a senior employee took a direct case against a former employer for being terminated, and he went on to be appointed CEO of a large multinational fairly shortly afterwards. His case got a fair bit of press coverage, before the former employer settled it -as it was fairly obvious that he hadn't done anything wrong, a kind of whistleblowing really.

    So it didn't seem to do his career any harm.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,915 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui

    A female lecturer, engineering, sued a university in Dublin for sexual discrimination, won, and was awarded €90k, I believe.

    I'd imagine a barrister or lawyer successfully suing their employer might find it actually improving their career prospects 8-o

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Weird stuff happens! I was involved in terminating the head of security at a mainland European bank for fraud, accompanied the security guards as they escorted him of the premises and into the hands of waiting police officers and he was prosecuted in the local courts. Next we hear of him two years later as he is announced the new head of security at bank in a neighbouring country!!!! It did not last long….

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,666 ✭✭✭dennyk

    "I'm sorry, but we can't comment on matters relating to pending litigation…" is probably not what your prospective employer wants to hear when they ring your previous employer for a reference, all in all.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    A trouble maker is a troublemaker lawyer or not, so unless they are going to bring a large block of clients along with them, most firms will pass. Alternatively if you have the backing of some of the partners with equity in the firm that might work but beyond that most people will not risk their career to take on a known trouble maker - nobody wants to be the clown that took on the idiot that is now taking us court.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Clepsis Fucana

    Thanks to all for all of the really interesting points made in this discussion.

    Just to politely challenge some of the arguments made, if the employee suffered a genuine injury at work which was no fault of their own as a result of negligence on the part of the employer, would the employee still risk significant reputational damage regarding their career prospects with other multinational employers in the same sector?

    I guess the employee could still be viewed as a trouble maker for suing regardless of the authenticity of their personal injury claim.

    Any thoughts?

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,651 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    Some employers recognise that 'trouble maker' is an important characteristic, and valuable when you need a bit of a disruptive approach.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,414 ✭✭✭FishOnABike

    or OP you could possibly rephrase question 4 as

    Q4. Are legal representatives generally just focused on how much they can earn irrespective of winning the case at hand or the career consequences for their client after the case?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,389 ✭✭✭...Ghost...

    1. Depends on whether you stay in the same sector, or if you expect a glowing reference. For example; if you are an IT professional working for Amazon, you could easily get a job with any other company looking for IT without being concerned about the future fallout.
    2. It would have to be a high profile case and even then, probably not. However….references! If HR call the previous employer, it could be a problem. Your CV might need to choose specific references.
    3. I'd be of the mindset of "is it the right thing to do" and then weigh that against the challenges. If the employer failed to act on something like sexual harassment, then I would take them to the cleaners. If they failed to punish a knobend supervisor for incomptence who caused some issues with my pay-check, then I would leave them be.
    4. Legal are always looking to win the case for the most money. They won't be thinking about what happens after.

    Stay Free

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,079 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    I'm not talking about the body corporate, I'm talking about the individual making the decision and it's impact on him and in over 30 years I have never heard a single person say screw my career I'll take a chance on Mr./Ms. X.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,460 ✭✭✭caviardreams

    Are you talking about a personal injury claim (i.e. via PIAB) or suing your employer? There is a difference and in the case of the former there is no public record that can be googled etc so the negative damage outside your own org is very limited if any (short of the grapevine)

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,915 ✭✭✭✭cnocbui

    Here's a 'trouble maker' for you:

    She didn't have much to lose, from the sounds of it.

    If we have this attitude that someone who insists on the law being applied and followed with regard to the circumstances of their own employment, is a 'trouble maker' and that it's perfectly natural for them to suffer for it for possibly the rest of their life, then perhaps we shouldn't bother having laws in the first place.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,651 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    Different industries will have different attitudes and different appetites for risk.

    Employing a whistle blower is no threat to the line manager's career, unless the line manager is hiding something that they wouldn't want to be whistle blown.