Northern Ireland

Tribunal criticises Randox over unfair dismissal

County Antrim-based Randox Laboratories has been criticised for its behaviour by an industrial tribunal.

The tribunal awarded just over £70,000 to the company's former international business manager for unfair dismissal.

It found that the company tried to avoid its obligations to Mr Harry Harrison by saying that he was employed by Randox India.

Adding 50% to compensation the tribunal said: "A large corporate employer should not behave in this way."

Mr Harrison was dismissed in January 2010, several days after being praised for his efforts in India and for a presentation on the business plan for the company there.

The dismissal followed a subsequent meeting, on 18 January, when Mr Harrison presented figures to the company's senior management team.

At that meeting there was "an altercation between (senior manager and director) Ms Sonya Ferguson and the claimant whereby she reacted abusively to inaccurate figures".

The next day Mr Harrison was told he would have to adopt a working pattern of three weeks in Northern Ireland and three weeks in India.

He left work early but before leaving found his telephone and internet access had been cut off. His work email was no longer accessible from home.

He later received a letter saying that he was sacked.

'Incredible'

In its decision, the tribunal said: "For some reason Randox NI wanted to sack the claimant due to his sudden, dramatic, unspecified fall from grace.

"In order to do so without having to follow any procedure or answer for their actions they relied on the fiction that the claimant was employed by Randox India for all purposes other than payroll in an apparent effort to avoid their obligations to this employee.

"Our conclusion from all the facts and from our assessment of the demeanour and veracity of all the witnesses is that what happened essentially was, that it became convenient and expedient for (Randox NI) to try to characterise an administrative change to payroll terms and conditions, as a substantive change of employer when it appeared to suit its purpose after the relationship soured for some reason."

No reason had been given for Mr Harrison's dismissal as the company maintained he was an Indian employee and the head of human resources, Ms Linda Magee, said she had no involvement with Mr Harrison.

In its finding, the tribunal said: "We find it incredible that the global head of HR would know nothing about the reason for the claimant being sacked and that she would have no involvement in the letter of dismissal, particularly as she frequently visited the Indian operation in her role as global head of HR.

"This refusal to accept that she had any connection with the claimant tainted her credibility for us."