SIPTU representatives have said that the over €12,500 awarded to a worker at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) following his unfair dismissal from Dawn Meats in Grannagh, county Waterford, highlights the right of employees to have their privacy strictly respected. Aeron James, who was represented by the SIPTU Workers Rights Centre, received the award after the WRC found that his dismissal was substantively and procedurally unfair.  SIPTU Workers Rights Centre Advocate, Rachel Hartery, said: “Aeron, who had an unblemished employment record, was subjected to covert surveillance while on certified sick leave after he suffered an injury at work. He was wrongly accused of gross misconduct after he carried out menial tasks on his small farm and was unfairly dismissed after a flawed investigation by the company.  “There was a disregard to fairness by the company in its treatment of Aeron. The disciplinary process the company adopted was seriously flawed, lacked independence and impartiality and was in breach of its own procedures and natural justice." The WRC Adjudication Officer was satisfied there were a number of procedural shortcomings and irregularities in relation to the manner with which the investigation and disciplinary process was conducted. He said he had serious concerns in relation to the multiplicity of the roles that were played by two key decision makers and that their investigation was not conducted with the required levels of ‘impartiality and independence.  He further stated that he found the evidence presented by Aeron to be more compelling and that the respondents did not consider or make allowances for any mitigating factors put forward by the complainant or alternatives to dismissal. He said he was satisfied that the sanction of dismissal was disproportionate and did not fall within the range of reasonable responses. Aeron was awarded a total of €12,566 for the dismissal, including minimum notice. Hartery added: “This case clearly indicates the right that workers have to privacy in relation to their employer and that it is essential that disciplinary investigations are conducted with the upmost respect to the principles of independence and impartiality.”