A female employee of retailer Argos who was forced to quit her job after a relationship with her supervisor ended acrimoniously has been awarded €6,000 in a ruling published by the Employment Appeals tribunal last week.
Kim Berigan of Ballyfermot in Dublin told the tribunal that she had a child with the supervisor but the relationship broke up in late 2004.
She said that she became aware that the supervisor – referred to as 'CP' – had told other staff that she had "slept with someone else" and made derogatory comments about her. Berigan made a formal complaint that CP had maligned her after the break-up.
The subsequent investigation by the company, involving interviews with staff, concluded that there was not enough evidence to uphold the complaint.
A company spokesman denied the investigation was "a whitewash" but conceded that evidence from the interviews which corroborated Berigan's complaint had not been put to CP.
While Berigan acknowledged the company's human resources adviser had "gone out of her way to help her" Berigan refused the company's offer of a transfer to another store.
When it was put to the same adviser that CP had been badmouthing Berigan to such a degree that Berigan had felt unable to return to work, she replied: "I suppose so."
The tribunal said that it was "very unsatisfactory and irregular" that Argos had not told Berigan that staff had corroborated her allegations and the company "ignored the said corroboration".
In making an award of €6,000, the tribunal said it was "not entirely satisfied" that Berigan, who is now paid a single-parent allowance, was unable to get work after she quit.