Workplace Solicitor News
Posted: October 15th, 2019
A facilities company has been issued an order to pay €30,000 to a female catering assistant who had her bottom pinched by a chef/manager in a series of sexual harassment incidents involving the senior male employee.
Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Catherine Byrne, said in her ruling: “As an instance of sexual harassment, a pinch on the bottom may not be at the extreme end of the scale, but it is well within the definition of unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. It was also at the end of a continuum of incidents including a punch in the ribs, being sniffed at, constant unwanted touching and making offensive sexual remarks about the complainant to her husband.”
The €30,000 award represents 18 months income for the worker. The company provides catering services at the offices of a government department.
The Polish worker submitted a complaint of sexual harassment in relation to the bottom pinch to her employer on the day the incident occurred, February 1 2018. The chef/manager refuted the allegations and counter-claimed he had a sanitiser bottle in his hand and that the bottle brushed up against the female.
Following an investigation by the employer the chef’s claims were accepted, as was his explanation of other issues raised by the female worker and by the extended team.
In making her award, Byrne stated that she believed the catering assistant when she said that the chef/manager pinched her bottom. She said: “It is my view that the effect of the sexual harassment suffered by the complainant was compounded by the failure of the respondent to give any credence to her evidence and I find that, of itself, this demonstrated a lack of respect for her. To compensate for this treatment, I decide that the respondent is to pay the complainant compensation of €30,000, which is equivalent to 18 months’ wages.”
Posted: September 10th, 2019
€10,200 in constructive dismissal compensation must be paid by to a long-serving Bus Éireann driver after a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Dan Fitzpatrick said that he has been left ‘deeply traumatised’ over the way he was constructively dismissed by the bus company. Mr Fitzpatrick had been working for Bus Eireann for 16 years in the Galway region. The company told him that he would need to step down from his position or face being terminated due to an incident involving an elderly passenger in November 2017.
In the incident in question Mr Fitzpatrick said that he physically escorted an elderly passenger off a Galway city route bus service after an angry exchange between the two and repeated requests from Mr Fitzpatrick for the man to depart the bus. Once the gentleman was off the bus Mr Fitzpatrick got back into his driver’s seat and proceeded to drive off.
The day following the incident, Mr Fitzpatrick was called to his supervisor’s office where he viewed three different CCTV recording of what occurred and was immediately suspended pending a subsequent disciplinary hearing.
If he chose to remain in his position and be fired and he would have no longer have qualified for his €10,000 to €15,000 retirement gratuity. due to this he retired on November 27, 2017, after what he described to the WRC as “a flawed and unfair disciplinary investigation” by Bus Éireann. He then submitted a claim for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act with the WRC.
WRC Adjudication Officer, Ray Flaherty said that Mr Fitzpatrick had no choice but to retire when he was told failure to do so would lead to him not qualifying for his retirement gratuity and referred to the gratuity ultimatum to Mr Fitzpatrick as “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
In his ruling, Mr Flaherty said that comments made to Mr Fitzpatrick by a supervisor that “there is no excuse for this behaviour” in the incident and “you will never work in the company again” backed up Mr Fitzpatrick’s claim that fair process was not followed.
Bus Éireann were not present at the WRC oral hearing but a Bus Éireann representative commented: “Bus Éireann do not comment on individual cases and we have no further comment”.
Posted: August 20th, 2019
The possibility of working conditions and duties leading to the psychological trauma of social media moderators has been highlighted in a BBC documentary.
The report detailed the working experience of Shawn Speaglem who worked as a Facebook content moderator for a third party company Cognizant, based in Florida in the United States. Despite have completed a non-disclosure agreement about his time in the role, Shawn opted to disregard this so he could speak out on the pictures and images that workers have to view due to Facebook’s moderation policies and processes.
He said: “One of my first videos that I remember looking at was two teenagers grabbing an iguana by the tail and they smashed it onto the pavement while a third person was recording it. And the iguana was screaming and the kids just would not stop until the iguana was just pasted on the ground. I’ve seen people put fireworks in a dog’s mouth and duct tape it shut. I’ve seen cannibalism videos, I’ve seen terrorism propaganda videos.”
Shawn told the documentary makers that he has suffered great stress, weight gain and depression due to the content he had to view as part of his expected duties. He said: “I felt like I was a zombie in my seat. It really gets to you because I don’t have that bystander syndrome where I’m OK just watching this suffering and not contributing any way to deter it.”
In Ireland, where the European Union headquarters of many social media platforms are located in Dublin, a legal action is being considered on behalf of moderators in relation to their working conditions. Facebook has faced actions similar to this in the past. In September 2018 Selena Scola, a former content moderator with the company submitted a legal action against the company in relation to the mental effects of the work was had to complete. She claimed that the viewing of disturbing images and videos lead to her developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the time that she was employed at the Facebook headquarters in California. Subsequent to this two more former Facebook content moderators issued similar claims and, as a result, Facebook may now face a class-action lawsuit in relation to this issue.
Continual and repeated exposure to harmful content is an unfortunate side effect of the as part a Moderators role. These side effects can lead to psychological injury and traumatic mental damage to the Moderators over time due to the content that they have to view due to the review and publishing policy of the social media platforms that they work for.
Such trauma can have a great impact depending on the actual content witnessed, the provision and availability of proper support mechanisms from employers to allow staff to deal with work-related trauma and work expectations. The latter refers to the level of work and output required to be completed each day. It is the obligation (duty of care) of the employer to ensure that they provide a safe place of work, a safe system of work and to prevent harm to their employees.
Any content moderators who have suffered due to their working conditions, or required outputs, should look after their own health and seek help as soon as possible. it is also advisable to contact an experienced solicitor to ensure that the company is acting with a duty of care to them.
Posted: July 2nd, 2019
A Co Meath garda whose legs were crushed, when a man rammed him with a stolen car and then drove over his legs in August 2015, has been awarded €975,000 workplace assault compensation by the High Court.
At the time of the incident, Garda Ciaran Murrihy was on duty with three other gardaí when he was deliberately crushed by a stolen car into a garda car vehicle. The incident result in him breaking both of his legs.
Patrick McDonagh, the driver of the stolen car, ,was 26 years old at the time and later later pleaded guilty to having caused serious harm to Garda Murrihy. The outcome of the trial was that he was jailed for seven years in February 2016.
At the High Court Judge Michael Twomey was advised by Barrister Conor E Byrne all parties by consent had agreed on a figure of compensation of €975,000 for Garda Murrihy in relation to the accident and the injuries that he received.
Mr Justice Twomey said that he was both with both parties for reaching agreement on the level of compensation without a full hearing, which he said was always the preferable approach in cases like this.
Garda Murrihy and Garda Lucy Wood, who was also injured in the incident, had been on duty at Clonusk Rise, Hamlet Lane, Balbriggan, on August 2015 when they noticed the stolen Citroen Xsara car that had been stolen earlier that day.
The court was informed that Garda Murrihy – of Macetown, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath – had to roll away to so that his legs were not being repeatedly run over.
Judge Twomey approved the settlement and on the application of Ms Needham directed the release of Garda Murrihy’s medical files.
Garda Murrihy said, in a victim impact statement to the criminal court, that he is still haunted by the vision of McDonagh driving the stolen car directly at him. He told the court that he had gone from being a proud garda and active father-of-two to feeling useless. he said: “McDonagh stole my life from me and has left me with so little”.
Posted: June 15th, 2019
A Garda who was injured in a violent struggle with a prisoner has been awarded a €290,000 workplace injury compensation settlement after he sustained a knee injury.
Sergeant Donal Cronin, aged 50, could complete all of his daily work duties due to the knee injury. He also claimed that he was overlooked for a number of promotions due to the injuries. The overall Garda Workplace injury compensation figure awarded to Garda Cronin was €286,630. The incident happened at Limerick Circuit Court on July 9, 2004.
Presiding Judge Justice Bernard Barton was advised that Sergeant Cronin had been successful the examinations required for promotion to the inspector rank with distinction in 2001. Regardless of this was unsuccessful in both rounds of promotion interview board competitions during 2010 and in 2014.
Garda Cronin, the Judge was informed, was appointed to the position of court presenter – a job that he could perform despite the difficulties suffered as a result of his injuries.
Sergeant Cronin’s legal counsel claimed that he was unsuccessful in his bid for promotion on both occasions due to the injuries he sustained. In addition to this the Court was told that Garda Cronin would likely need an operation for a knee replacement in the neat future.
Among those who providing evidence in Court a former chief superintendent who said that the score Sergeant Cronin had reached from the interview board for promotion was excellent but the system was “unfit for purpose” as it did not make take in to account the injuries sustained when an applicant was suffering from a disability.
This claims were argued by a sergeant garda on behalf of the minister for finance and public expenditure. He added that there was no clear thinking to say that the injuries suffered while Garda Cronin was on duty were an obstacle to the promotion to the rank of inspector.
He also said that it was not uncommon for a candidate coming from an administrative post without major operational frontline experience to be given the post of inspector and that said the promotion procedure was heavily policed. The interview board was not given the details of a candidate’s medical records as part of the promotion process – just four of 17 sergeants in the Limerick division were successful in their application for promotion to inspector, two of which were for administrative positions.
A calculated figure for the amount of compensation due to Sergeants Cronin, incorporating future loss of income due to being passed over for promotion of, of €166,630 was submitted to the court. Justice Bernard Barton awarded him (Garda Cronin) another €120,000 in general damages due to the serious injury to his left knee that lead to physical disability and ongoing pain and discomfort he had to deal with
The Judge told the Court said he was satisfied with the award and said that he felt if Sergeant Cronin reapplied for promotion, his injuries would not block a potential “a successful outcome”.
Posted: May 30th, 2019
An eight-year-old girl who sustained second-degree scald burns after a cup of hot chocolate fell onto her lap during a Ryanair flight has settled her High Court action for €150,000 flight injury compensation.
At the time of the accident American citizen Sriya Venkata Neti was on board a Ryanair flight which was travelling from Rome to Krakow, Poland accompanied by her parents. When she was taking a sip of the hot chocolate the hot liquid and the paper cup dropped on to her lap.
A medical report submitted to court claimed that the hot liquid pooled on the seat causing significant burning pain and the Sriya’s mother had to remove her from her seat belt and take off her clothing. Her mother said that her daughter’s skin that was burned was gone and blisters were forming in other areas and the child was crying due to the pain.
Now 11 years old Sriya Venkata Neti, who lives in Freemont, California, took the legal action via her father Srinivas Neti against Ryanair in relation to the incident that occurred on the Rome Krakow flight on June 25, 2016. Ryanair refuted all the claims that were made.
Hugh Mohan SC, representing Sriya, advised the court that this was a very unusual incident as, under the Warsaw Convention, if a passenger on an international flight can show that bodily injuries were caused by an accident, an unexpected or unusual event that is outside of the passenger’s control, then the passenger is not required to show negligence or fault as against the airline.
An affidavit submitted to the court by the girl’s father Srinivas Neti informed the court that the scarring has now improved. It went on to say that Sriya has made a good recovery and the condition of her injuries has improved.
In approving the Ryanair compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said when Sriya was burned she must have suffered a great deal of pain. He also took in to account that the family now wanted to get on with their lives and to put the incident in the past.
Posted: April 12th, 2019
A convicted burglar, Thomas O’Neill, has been awarded €20,000 bike accident compensation at the High Court after he was involved in a hit and run accident.
47-year-old Mr Thomas O’Neill, who is at this time serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated burglary, told the Judge that that the accident happened on June 18, 2014. Following A day fishing with his son in Swords, he was returning home on his bike when he was knocked off it and hit the ground hard. He commented: “The last thing I remember was feeling the impact and waking up in the ditch on the side of the road.”
Mr O’Neill told the judge that he had been inflicted with a head injury, loss of consciousness for a time and as well as a number of wounds to his face and body. He had refused assistance from a passing taxi driver and made his own way home by bus once he hid his bike in the ditch. He could not recall how his bike subsequently got back to his home. Neither had he any memory of speaking to his Doctor or a nurse who treated him at Beaumont Hospital.
He had gone to the Garda Station to make a statement about the accident. Sergeant Brendan O’Connor informed the Court that Mr O’Neill had been ‘under the influence of an intoxicant’, when he attended the Garda Station to make the statement and was told to return later to complete this. However he had not come back.
Legal counsel for the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Joseph McGettigan SC. accused, Mr O’Neill of fabricating the incident.
He said: “I am suggesting to you that for whatever reason, you have decided to concoct a case involving an untraced motorist, in order to get compensation, and you are here today with a story that just doesn’t add up. It is defying all credibility.
“I am suggesting to you that, whatever happened to you that day, you were not involved in a hit-and-run accident, and you decided to bring proceedings against the bureau without going through any normal channels. You never reported this case to the gardaí.”
Replying to this Mr O’Neill said: “I did report it to the guards.”
Mr O’Neill, the Judge was advised, had 20 previous convictions. However, Judge Hanna told the Court that these previous convictions did not mean he was not entitled to seek compensation for injuries in an accident. The Judge said he believed that the plaintiff was ‘not lying’ and was entitled to be awarded €20,000 inbike accident compensation.
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.