How should I behave when making a complaint?
We understand that making a complaint/disclosure/appeal or request can be stressful and that, from time to time, this stress may show in how a person interacts with this Office. Our staff members know that managing these interactions is part of their job.
However, we expect people to act reasonably when interacting with our Office. Our staff are not expected to tolerate behaviour that is abusive, offensive, threatening or, due to the frequency of contact, takes up too much time and resources that could be spent assisting other customers.
What kind of behaviour is unacceptable?
The following types of behaviour are not acceptable:
If a file has been closed by this Office, it is unreasonable persistence to refuse to accept the decision or insist that another member of staff looks again at the case.
An unreasonable demand can include a demand for action regarding a matter that is outside of the Office’s remit, looking for a solution that is not realistic or is disproportionate, demanding that a specific person must/must not deal with your case, or demanding that your case be dealt with within a specific timeframe or ahead of other customers.
- Unreasonable lack of co-operation
This may be demonstrated by a failure to clearly define the matter you are raising with the Office, presenting large volumes of documentation in a disorganised way, changing the substance of the issue while the Office’s process is ongoing, withholding information and not being honest about facts. It also includes non-cooperation by you with the Office, which may hinder, obstruct or delay the process.
Unreasonable arguments should not be made to this Office. Examples include exaggerating issues, presenting irrelevant arguments, insisting your version of events is accepted as fact where there is no objective evidence to support it, or refusing to consider other versions of events.
Unreasonable behaviour includes multiple phone calls, emails or letters about the same matter, threats of violence, abuse of the Office staff, rude or aggressive conduct, sending profane imaging and attempting to provoke staff into engaging in unnecessary and time-wasting argument. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations are also considered to be abusive behaviour.
Please note if emails are received with profanities and/or unacceptable images, that such emails will not be acknowledged and your correspondence will be delayed, because they are automatically blocked by our firewall. If these emails persist the email address will be blocked.
We will not accept correspondence that is abusive or threatening to staff. We will not respond to any correspondence containing such language.
We will tell the person if we think their language during telephone calls is rude and offensive and ask them to stop using such language. Staff have the right to terminate the telephone call if the behaviour continues.
What happens if I behave in this way?
If we consider your behaviour to be unreasonable, we will tell you why and ask you to change it.
Unreasonable conduct may include one or two isolated incidents or may be the accumulation of incidents or behaviour over a period of time. If the unacceptable conduct continues or constitutes a serious risk (such as threatening a member of staff with violence), we will take action to restrict the complaint’s contact with our offices and staff.
This decision will only normally be taken after a more senior staff member has reviewed the situation. Restrictions will be appropriate and in line with the nature of the behaviour. The options we are most likely to consider are:
- asking you to contact us by letter only
- asking you to only make contact with a named staff member
- asking you to call by telephone only on certain days and times
- limiting your access to the office
- additional correspondence relating to the same matter is read and then filed but no response is provided
- as a final option, terminating all contact with you if this behaviour persists (the Director General will make this decision)
In all cases, we will write to tell you why we believe your behaviour is not reasonable and what action we propose to take. If the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the staff of the Office or others, we will consider other options. These could include, reporting the matter to An Garda Síochána or instigating legal action. In such cases, we may not give you warning of that action.
Regardless of your behaviour, our staff will act respectfully towards you and take an impartial attitude to the issues you have raised with this Office.
In developing this Reasonable Conduct Policy, the Office has had regard to the considerations regarding eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights identified in section 42(1)(a)-(c) of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.