Workplace Solicitor News
Posted: March 12th, 2019
A shop worker has been awarded in excess of €24,000 retail outlet compensation against her employer after tripping over the open flap of a clothes box the store that she was employed in.
Aisling Smith, with an address at Woodlawn Way, Santry, Dublin 17 was informed by Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that she had not been maintaining an adequate look-out in the Vera Moda store and, due to contributory negligence, reduced her personal injury compensation award to just over €19,000.
Ms Smiths legal representative, Barrister John Nolan appearing with Kent Carty Solicitors, advised the court Ms Smith had hurt her shoulders and back in the fall that happened in the store during November 2015. His client argue that the storeroom at the Vera Moda shop in the Pavilion Shopping Centre, Swords, had been cluttered with boxes. Ms Smith (28) said she had been bringing stock from a store room when her knee caught on the flap of a box, causing her to fall heavily. She had experienced injuries to her neck and both shoulders and her back and had a soft tissue injury to her wrist after having tried to break her fall with her hands.
Judge Groarke awarded Ms Smith a total of €22,500 damages but cut the personal injury compensation award to €19,125 due to what he said was contributory negligence on her part. He said she had been employed at the store for long enough that she should have been conscious of keeping a proper look-out and been more careful in relation to her own safety.
He said that testimony provided by forensic engineer Barry Tennyson, who had conducted out an inspection of the stock room, indicated that the defendant had put serious effort into tidying up the store before the joint engineering inspection. Judge Groarke said the stock room had been kept in a rather haphazard way.
Ms Smith informed told the court that a stock box had been pulled out from a position against the wall and was left with one of its flaps lying open. A retail outlet compensation award of €2,000 for loss of earnings was included in her final compensation award.
Posted: February 2nd, 2019
A €63,000 Tayto Park accident compensation settlement for a now 16-year-old boy in relation to a fall from a playground slide on August 26, 2013 was approved at the High Court heard.
Seán Kelly was 11-years-old he sustained serious kidney injuries in the incident occurred at Tayto Park, Co. Meath. Judge Garrett Simons was advised that Seán – who lives at Coolkill, Sandyford, Dublin – was told he should be wearing shoe covers to reduce the friction from the slide when he fell in the ‘hazardous’ run-off section, and landed painfully on the side of tubing.
Judge Simons was advised that Seán was ‘doubled up’ due to the pain he was suffering from following the accident. He was administered with first aid before he got sick a few times. After this he was taken to his family’s car and they brought him to his family doctor for further treatment late. His GP referred him to Tallaght Paediatric Emergency Department where an x-ray showed he had a grade two injury to his kidney.
Seán’s was prescribed with a course of antibiotics to treat his kidney injuries he made a full recovery by January 2014.
Seán’s legal counsel Patrick O’Connell SC told the Judge that Tayto Park failed have sufficient supervision in place for the children when they were exiting the slide. Mr O’Connell went on to say that the slide was highly polished and slippery at the run-off area. He also said that the sides of the slide should have been coated with foam or rubber to minimise the chance of injury if a child slipped on it. There was also an allegation that the slide should have been constructed so that users would finish the complete run and not be able to exit it earlier.
Mr O’Connell informed Justice Judge Simons that a playground amusement compensation settlement offer of just under €63,000 had been agreed. Judge Simons gave his approval for the personal injury compensation.
Posted: January 24th, 2019
An 11-year-old schoolboy has been awarded €27,500 dog bite injury compensation after he was bitten by a neighbour’s greyhound dog and left with scarring to his leg
Barrister Kevin D’Arcy, legal representative on behalf of Milan Nasyron, told the Circuit Civil Court that the young boy, who took the legal action against his neighbour Fiona Coggins through his mother Evita Hoverun, had been attacked by the dog on May 25 2017. The attack occurred when he was putting his bicycle in a communal basement car park at a residential development in Clarehall, Malahide Road, Dublin.
Mr D’Arcy told that court that the defendant had allowed the greyhound to run free without a muzzle. This action, it was alleged, resulted in the attack on the then 9-year-old Milan.
Presiding Judge Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was informed that Ms Coggins did not have control of her dog despite a number of earlier incidents involving the dog. As the boy was returning to his home, and was placing his bicycle in the car park, the dog had lunged at Milan from the direction of Ms Coggins’ car parking area. The attack punctured the back of Milan’s left thigh.
Additionally, he had been knocked forward in the attack further injuring and cutting his right knee. Luckily, Milan had been able to escape from the dog via the elevator to get into his home.
Milan was taken to the emergency department of Temple Street Hospital where his cuts were cleaned and dressed and he was treated with antibiotics for his injuries. After his treatment it was recorded that he had half inch scar on his right knee and a small puncture scar on the back of his left thigh.
Due to the incident, the court was told, Milan had had developed a fear of dogs and suffered from anxiety.
Judge Groarke said he felt the €27,500 settlement offer for the defendant was a good one which he approved with an order for costs.
Posted: December 3rd, 2018
It has been reveal than in excess of 110 incidents of tram or train “surfing” have been recorded by Irish Rail and on Luas services since 2014.
The dangerous activity hit the headlines in October when 20-year-old Rebecca Kelly received €550,000 in compensation after suffering a severe brain injury after clinging on to a Luas carriage. Ms Kelly fell back onto the tracks and banged her head on the ground before some people dragged her out of the way of an oncoming tram.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that there have been 35 cases of tram surfing on Luas services in the past four years. On the Green Line that travels from Dublin City Centre to South Co Dublin recorded incidents have been more sporadic. There were none recorded in 2015 but then there were 13 throughout 2016.
Spokeswoman for Transdev, which operates both lines, Ms Dervla Brophy said the incidents of tram surfing are low. She stated: “Tram surfing can be fatal. We have had a very small number of incidents of people trying to ‘scut’ and all staff are trained to be vigilant, observe and report. The public have reported [cases] too. Any activity or even potential concern that is reported – trams will be stopped, security and or gardai called. The risk of serious injury is very high.”
She added: “We show CCTV of various incidents that have occurred along the lines. The purpose is to request parents know where their kids are and if they are on the lines, they’re aware just how dangerous their playground might be.”
A separate Freedom of Information request has lead to Irish Rail releasing figures detailing 87 incidents of train surfing since 2016. Of the incidents recorded in the last 36 months, twelve were on the Northern commuter route connecting Dublin and Dundalk. The incidents in question occurred exclusively on the Dart service.
Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny said: “On board staff, station staff and security personnel are vigilant in ensuring we respond with security or garda support. Extra security patrols this year are yielding a reduction in the number of incidents.”
Irish Rail said it had modified the original Dart fleet of 76 carriages during refurbishment to make headlight units more difficult to grasp onto.
Posted: November 23rd, 2018
Garda Ronan Leonard has been awarded €8,000 workplace injury compensation at the High Court due to a soft tissue shoulder injury which he sustained while in pursuit of a suspect as part of his work duties.
The compensation legal action that was submitted by Garda Leonard sought €20,000 Garda workplace injury compensation against the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Garda Leonard suffered the shoulder injury in the fall that occurred on July 11, 2014, while he was chasing the suspect.
In the aftermath of the fall Garda Leonard attended with an out-of-hours doctor service and, from here, he was sent to an Accident and Emergency hospital department. The X-rays that were conducted show that Garda Leonard suffered no bone breaks. Garda Leonard was allowed to go home with a prescription for painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Due to the injury in the fall he could not attend work for a period of five days.
Due to constant pain Garda Leonard was suffering with, he went to his local Doctor where he was diagnosed with a sprain to the joint at the top of his left shoulder. His doctor treated him a steroid injection and a course of anti-inflammatories. Due to the pain remaining Garda Leonard was treated with the same medication and steroid injection in October 2014.
The High Court was advised that Garda Leonard has now fully recovered from the soft tissue injury. Additionally, the Court was informed that he has never previously claimed under the Garda Compensation Acts.
Legal representatives for Garda Leonard told the High Court that he should be awarded €20,000 workplace injury compensation based on the Book of Quantum. However, the Judge ruled that €8,000 was the appropriate figure of compensation, plus €60 agreed special damages. He, the Judge, went on to say that as part of his ruling, that the appropriate figure is €8,000 due to the recent binding decisions of the Court of Appeal in relation to personal injury cases. This decision directed that a downwards recalibration of damages for personal injury workplace compensation actions of approximately 45-50% must be applied.
The Judge also stated that €8,000 Garda work injury compensation was the proper figure for Garda Leonard and proportionate to the injuries in question.
Posted: October 17th, 2018
Following being attacked by his no brother-in-law outside a Letterkenny nightclub, a Garda has been awarded €4,000 workplace injury compensation.
Garda Fintan Smith told High Court Judge Justice Michael Twomey that he was attacked and headbutted by the man. The initial attack left him with a black eye and nose bleed and lead to him falling on the footpath. Following this Garda Smith was sitting in the front seat of the Garda car and the attacker restrained in handcuffs in the back seat, awaiting transfer to Letterkenny Garda Station. At this point Garda Smith was kicked to the side of his head by the same man.
Garda Smith informed Judge Twomey that he no longer maintains a relationship with his now brother-in-law. He does have excellent relations with the other members of his wife’s family. Earlier in 2017, Garda Smith married his girlfriend and his attacker had been invited to the celebration but he did not attend on the day. In the aftermath of the incident Garda Smith said that he does his best to avoid any family occasion if he knows that his brother-in-law is also planning to be present.
Ms Fiona Crawford, legal counsel for Garda Smith, told the High Court her client had sustained an injured nose. X-rays showed that Garda Smith had not sustained a bone injury.
The incident, the High Court was told, had lead to a major amount of tension between Garda Smith and his then girlfriend. He was unable to attend work for a month due to the embarrassment the episode caused him. He said that he felt a lot of anger for a while after the attack. He then requested, and received, a transfer from Letterkenny to Ballybofey Garda Station. Garda Smith told the Judge that his now brother-in-law had been a known troublemaker when the attack occurred and was not the type of person who would respect the gardai.
In awarding workplace compensation of €4,000 for the injuries Garda Smith suffered, Judge Twomey stated that he believed Garda Smith’s opinion that brother-in-law had a negative attitude towards gardai.
Posted: September 7th, 2018
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has upheld an unfair dismissal claim of a waitress who was on the spot due to a customer posting a negative comment on TripAdvisor complaining that “the red-haired waitress was abrupt”. The restaurant has been ordered to pay her €2,000 compensation.
The restaurant manager advised the WRC that he concurred with the waitress’s account regarding the dismissal and added that he had received an additional two complaints from customers and a further 20 complaints from other employees. He also accepted that he did not advise the waitress of these other complaints when he he advising he that her position of employment was terminated.
WRC Adjudication Officer Máire Mulcahy issued a ruling which stated that the use of the TripAdvisor review and the 20 alleged complaints “is not far short of mob rule in the workplace” when the waitress was not given the chance to examine the authenticity of them.
The ruling said that the “vox-pop” type comment on TripAdvisor that “the waitress with the red hair was abrupt” which the restaurant used as the basis to sack her “is very far removed” from the concept of “substantial grounds” to justify a dismissal as required by the Unfair Dismissal Act. Ms Mulcahy added that the waitress’s description of how her dismissal occurred is not being argued.
She said said: “There was no disciplinary procedure in the workplace. There was no process. No advance notice, no examination of the alleged complaints, no opportunity to be accompanied at the meeting which resulted in her dismissal, or right of appeal was afforded to the complainant.”
Ms Mulcahy stated that the waitress was denied a proper judicial process regarding her sacking.
The defendant advised the WRC, in her testimony that she feels that the real reason she was sacked was due to the support she gave to the manager’s partner in the break-up of their relationship.
The final WRC report on the case said that the restaurant boss has said sorry to the waitress for his actions.
Posted: August 3rd, 2018
A former Business Development Executive for Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Co, Gráinne O’Hara, has been awarded €7,500 in relation to breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act.
Ms O’Hara had to handle out-of-hours work emails, a number of which took place after midnight. These request let to extra work of over 48 hours a week on multiple occasions.
Her (Ms O’Hara’s) contract of employment with the Kepak firm stated that her working week was 40 hours. She told the Court that she normally worked close to 60 hours a week. To reinforce her claims, Ms O’Hara showed the Court emails that she sent to and/or received from her employers both before her start time and after her normal finish time.
In addition to this, Ms O’Hara showed the Court emails that she received from her employers prior to 8am. Ms O’Hara told the court she had requested from Kepak, but was was not provided with, a copy of all of her emails while she worked there.
Ms O’Hara was employed at Kepak, based at the Blanchardstown facility, from July 2016 to April 14th 2017.
In response to the claims, Kepak argued that the volume level of work given to Ms O’Hara was not unusual for their staff members. They added that no other staff members had worked longer that the 48 hours in a week.
The Labour Court ruled that Kepak did not provide all of the details of Ms O’Hara’s emails and gave no evidence to contradict her evidence.
The court found that Kepak acted in a manner not in line with the Organisation of Working Time Act by requiring Ms O’Hara to longer than 48 hours a week. They also said that Ms O’Hara’s complaint had a firm basis.
Ms O’Hara appealed the Adjudication Officer work injury compensation award of €6,240 to her. Ms O’Hara argued that this was an adequate amount of personal injury compensation “for the systemic nature of the breaches of the Act involved in the case”. The Labour Court amended the Adjudication Officer’s award by 20% to an overall figure of €7,500.
Posted: July 4th, 2018
A retailer has been ordered to pay a shop assistant €7,000 in unfair dismissal compensation after she was sacked for selling a bottle of beer to a customer on Good Friday of 2017.
the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that she was unfairly dismissed and that her complaint for unfair dismissal ‘is well founded’. The woman said that she made an honest mistake in selling the bottle of beer on April 14th 2017 but her bosses terminated her employment for gross misconduct. The retailer countered that it could have been in significant trouble for the sale of alcohol on a prohibited day, including a possible temporary closure order being applied to the premises.
The woman told the WRC hearing that she believed that there were no reasonable grounds for her termination. She arguedthat it was not fair as her employer had not issued a reminder to staff not to sell alcohol on the day and that the effort to cordon off the alcohol was obviously insufficient to prevent customers who wanted to purchase alcohol.
Additionally she pointed out that the cash tills were not set up to prevent the sale like it does on other times when this was the case.
The hearing was told that the woman felt that the sanction of dismissal for selling a bottle of beer was completely disproportionate. She disputed that she knowingly sold the bottle of beer to the customer. Furthermore, she stated that her former employer did not adhere with standard procedures in dismissing her from her position.
The retailer advised the hearing that the store manager became aware that there had been a sale of beer on Good Friday and having looked over the CCTV was able to see that the sales assistant was responsible for the sale.
In his findings, WRC Adjudication Officer, James Kelly stated that the worker should have been more careful.
He said: “The sale of one bottle of beer appears minor in isolation however, the possibility of the consequences on the business, with the possible temporary closure should it have been reported and prosecuted are significant. Accordingly, I find that the actions of the respondent were within the range of reasonable responses open to it and that substantial grounds did exist to justify the complainant’s dismissal.”
Posted: June 1st, 2018
A €37,000 payout has been awarded to a woman by the the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) who alleged that she was sexually harassed and had felt pressurised to rub antibiotic cream into her bosses’ back and groin.
The woman, a former food service employee, took a compensation in connection to the the payment of wages, unfair dismissal and sexual harassment actions against her previous employer. The claims were ruled to be valid by the adjudication officer managing the case. The officer also dismissed the findings of an independent investigator, who was contracted by the employer, who had said that there was no proof bullying or harassment previously as the woman had claimed/
The woman told the WRC that she was the victim of an “ongoing bullying and harassment and intolerable working conditions during the course of her employment which had a detrimental effect on her health and well-being”. It was alleged that she worked 25-30 hours a week but was only paid €200 despite this.
Along with this, she told her solicitor that there had been efforts made to bribe her into cancelling the and also that her former co-employees were stopped from speaking out in support of her. She stated that she was diagnosed with a mental health condition, and was on medication for depression while working in the role.
The WRC was advised by a witness that the former employers “deliberately belittled and put down the claimant”, while another witness stated it was “common knowledge that the claimant was on medication for her mental health issues and that the respondent was constantly on her back and that she was often crying”.
The arguments made by the defence rested on the evidence of the investigator that the employer contracted when the woman asked for her P45 in September 2015. Despite concerns regarding the bias of the investigator the woman allowed the review to be conducted carried out.
The WRC adjudicator awarded the complainant in question €17,450 and othe figure for separate claims. In total, she was awarded €37,450 sexual harassment damages.