Managers and Directors Beware
A Dublin hotel chain has been ordered to compensate their former Marketing Manager for harassment that caused work related stress. This substantial claim included €220,000 compensation for harassment and discrimination and a further €94,500 for stress caused by victimisation. In addition to the claim the company were further ordered to pay interest on half of the compensation.
The tribunal heard how the harassment, discrimination and victimisation had accumulated over a number of years. It culminated in a series of 11 meetings over two weeks that caused the traumatic ending of a pregnancy and a stillbirth. This then caused an illness diagnosed as “acute grief reaction” that was further aggravated by the “work related stress she had endured in the months prior and following” this pregnancy. A psychiatrist told the court that the illness was so severe that she was unlikely ever to return to employment.
This case demonstrates that claims for workplace stress are becoming more frequent. Any distress caused to employees will now almost inevitably enable their legal representatives to advise claimants to seek to prove that illness during or following conflict as being caused by work related stress. In this case it caused the amount of the claim to be increased by nearly 50%.
Managers and directors need to be aware that their actions can expose their organisation to large compensation claims. They should closely monitor that their policies and procedures are being followed. In this case use of the Stredia system would have indicated ‘early warning signs’ of the rising risk and enabled the organisation to take action to prevent this disruptive and damaging claim.