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Employment Appeals Tribunal affirms need for employees to engage in internal grievance procedures

The Employment Appeals Tribunal in Butler v Ryanair Limited UD1222/2011 considered whether a claimant’s resignation was justified in circumstances where he had failed to engage in internal grievance procedures regarding incidents of bullying against him.

The claimant’s case was that his employment was made intolerable by the conduct of his supervisor who unnerved him to the extent that it made him physically ill.

The claimant resigned from his position without making a formal complaint or allowing his employer a reasonable opportunity to resolve the issue.  He subsequently sought compensation on the grounds that he had been constructively dismissed from his employment.

The Tribunal held that the necessary test in respect of constructive dismissal is whether the actions of the employer amounted to a fundamental breach of the employment relationship.

The Tribunal heard evidence that the claimant had made an informal complaint against his supervisor to another senior staff member. The Tribunal also heard that the employer had begun to deal with these issues raised by the claimant before the resignation was made.

In the circumstances the Tribunal found that it was unreasonable of the claimant not to allow the company time to respond to his complaints.

The decision reaffirms the principle that when an employee has a grievance they should inform their employer and allow them a reasonable opportunity to deal with the issue. An employee will be expected to avail of internal procedures where available.

The Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 provides that when an employee is dismissed the dismissal is presumed to be unfair and the onus is on the employer to prove otherwise in the context of any challenge.

However in a claim for constructive dismissal, the onus shifts to the employee to show that their resignation was justified on the grounds that the employer’s conduct was unreasonable and amounted to a breach of contract.

For more information on the above or to discuss your specific requirements please contact:                                 (353) 094- 9251333     


Paul Cunney Solicitor and Partner in P. O'Connor & Son Solicitors in Co Mayo

Paul Cunney Solicitor & Partner

Paul Cunney- Partner

Paul has built a considerable reputation with clients in Employment Law. Paul will further add to his academic knowledge and expertise in this area of law by completing a Diploma in Employment Law in February 2014. He is the Deputy Coroner for Mayo East.



This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by P. O’Connor & Son Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.