A farm labourer who was suspended without pay for retaliating against a cow that kicked him has had disciplinary action imposed on him by his employer reduced by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The worker at an organisation providing agricultural education admitted to striking the cow, but said he had received a severe kick from the animal following milking.

He added that this was a momentary lapse of judgment and the cow was not injured.

The worker, who said this was a once-off incident in a 26-year-career, was originally dismissed by his employer. This sanction was later overturned at an appeal hearing.

Consequentially, the appeals board suspended the labourer without pay for six months and put a final written warning on his file for 24 months, as well as requiring him to undertake animal handling and welfare training.

The worker’s pay was also reduced to the bottom of the pay scale from the maximum point, which takes 13 and a half years to reach.

In addition, the worker was transferred to a different set of duties, which resulted in the loss of a €6,000 allowance.

Represented by Peter Glynn of SIPTU, the worker made the case at the WRC the sanctions imposed on him were disproportionate.

HR for the employer said at the hearing it did not accept the sanctions were disproportionate, there was a natural breach of justice or it did not give weight to mitigating circumstances.

The WRC adjudication officer Conor Stokes recommended the worker’s suspension without pay be reduced to three months and he be returned to the point on the pay scale he had been on.

The 24-month duration of the final written warning was to be on the worker’s file starting from the resumption of his duties. Stokes said this should begin from the date of the incident.

In addition, Stokes said the worker’s reassignment should be reconsidered following the completion of animal handling and welfare training.