Uncommonly High Damages Awarded by the Industrial Tribunal
On the 5th December 2018, the Industrial Tribunal, in the case of Christopher Zammit Dimech vs Cherry Limited relating to unfair dismissal, awarded €20,000 as compensation for unfair dismissal and €10,000 as compensation for discrimination against the employee. This case follows the recent case of Publius Davison vs De La Rue Currency and Security Print Limited where compensation awarded amounted to €90,000 which cases are both noteworthy as compensation awarded by the Tribunal is rarely so high.
In this case Christopher Zammit Dimech was employed as a creative web designer with the defendant company. The employee was advised by his doctor to start working from home due to a medical condition he suffered from which affected his heart. The company agreed to this initially however asked the employee to return to the office after a month giving him the option of returning to the office with reasonable adjustments or resigning and working as a freelance with certain tasks the company needed help with. The employee never resigned and was deemed to have abandoned his work after not giving details as to how he was going to return to working from the office.
The Tribunal analysed how reasonable accommodations need to be made by employers when dealing with employees with disabilities. The Tribunal further noted that the only defence available to the employer was that of proving that the employee working from home was creating a prejudice on the employer, but the Tribunal did not feel that this was proven in this case.
The Tribunal concluded that the termination of employment was unjust as well as discriminatory and thus awarded a total of €30,000 in compensation. The Tribunal did not order re-integration due to the employee having abandoned work.