Case study: Trade union membership

Gerry has been working part-time (10 hours a week) for 6 months with a takeaway restaurant. He decides that he will join a trade union because the conditions in the job are bad. None of the other employees is in a union. He is showing some information he got from the union to a fellow employee when his employer comes into the takeaway and sees what Gerry is doing. At finishing time that day, the employer tells Gerry he no longer needs his services as demand has dropped. What rights does Gerry have?

Gerry has been working for the employer for less than a year, so in normal circumstances he would not be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. However, this requirement does not apply to a dismissal for trade union activity. It would appear that Gerry’s dismissal is related to his employer’s discovery that he had been in contact with a union. This gives Gerry a strong case to argue that this discovery was the reason for the dismissal and not a drop in demand.

Gerry could bring his case for unfair dismissal to the Workplace Relations Commission using the online complaint form available on

Page edited: 20 August 2019