Work Injury Claim
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: 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: 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: April 28th, 2018
The Workplace Relations Commission has ruled that the dismissal of a former human resources manager at a cemetery ‘both substantively and procedurally unfair’ and awarded him €47,500.
The HR manager being paid an annual salary of €51,500 when he was dismissed from his role in October 2016. He had worked at the cemetery since 1996. After being ill during March and April 2016 he went back to work and was told that a number of concerns had come up in connection with his work practices.
Following this he was placed on suspended from his role, with pay, from April to September of that year while an internal review of his actions was completed.
During a disciplinary hearing held by the deputy CEO of the cemetery on September 29, he was told he was being relieved of his position with immediate effect, due to his actions being classified as gross misconduct.
The former HR manager defended himself in the legal action, emphasising that he had a perfect disciplinary record before the ‘concern’ that were used as a basis for his dismissal.
These worries included the deletion of data from a company-owned hard drive, inadequate management of health and safety records and the way in which he dealt with the long-term absence of a colleague.
The mad claimed that he had removed the data from the hard drive due to a valid data request relating to the non-payment of bonuses for a period of two years. The data request in question had been overseen by the deputy CEO.
He also did not agree with the claim suggestion that he had mismanaged the prolonged absence of the other employee, saying that far from exposing the company to litigation or financial harm, he had actually saved the company from this.
Adjudication officer Eugene Hanly found that the criticism of the dismissed man’s actions was valid. However, he found in his favour in that there was insufficient grounds for the dismissal. He ruled that the company must pay the man €47,500 in unfair job dismissal compensation within six weeks of his finding.
Posted: February 19th, 2018
A €25,000 Garda Work Injury compensation award has been approved following a head-butt attacked on a Wexford based Garda who suffered terrible snoring problems.
Sergeant Noel McSweeney experienced the injury to his nose when he was on duty. McSweeney’s snoring disturbed his wife’s sleep and he had to sleep in another room man times.
Barrister Ellen Gleeson told presiding Judge Justice Michael Twomey that, when when the incident occurred in May 2012, Sergeant McSweeney had been working on a missing person search.
Mr McSweeney said that the missing woman had been found in a car where she was intoxicated, possessing drugs and acting aggressively. She was taken into custody following this.
Speaking about the incident Sergeant McSweeney said: “She jumped back and threw her head backwards, hitting me in the nose and upper teeth”. He added that he suffered cuts to four of his upper front teeth and the line of his nose had been damaged. Mr McSweeney also suffered a restriction of the airflow through his nose along with a deviated septum in the assault.
Sergeant McSweeney also admitted that he was not conscious of the problem but did have to sleep in the spare room of his residence due to his snoring problems. He added that he only suffered minimal slight discomfort and, hence, he chose not to have surgery.
Judge Twomey referred to the Book of Quantum in assessing the amount of Garda Accident Compensation to be paid. He approved a compensation award of €7,500 be paid for the minor dental damage along with €18,000 nose injury damages.
Posted: December 4th, 2017
Garda Sean Kelly (31) who is due to be wed this coming weekend, has been awarded €30,000 Garda Workplace Injury Compensation following an assaulted where he suffered a severe cut to his mouth.
Garda Kelly told the High Court that he is still sensitive in relation to the laceration on his upper lip and remarked to Mr Justice Bernard Barton he was still paranoid regarding the star-shaped scar. He was still able to find amusement with the presiding judge that he may have to wear some make-up when he gets married to his fiancé next Saturday.
The incident happened while he was at work on January 7 2012. As part of his duties, Garda Kelly had been called to a house in Finglas. Here a man, who had just been released from a psychiatric institution where he had been treated, was threatening to self harm. Garda Kelly was accompanied by two colleagues on the call in question
Garda Kelly told the court that the individual, who had swallowed a lot of non-prescriptive medication, had locked himself in his bathroom. From there he was threatening to throw himself out the bathroom window. Garda Kelly was struck on his mouth with a toilet brush holder, which lacerated his lip, when they tried to apprehend the man.
Garda Kelly had to be rushed to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown to tend to the bleeding. When he was treated, a portion of porcelain was found in his upper lip. X-rays clearly displayed that he had not suffered any major fractures.
He was also given an anaesthetic injection and received seven stitches, a number of them on the inside of his mouth. When the scar later became infected, he had to follows a course of antibiotics until the infection had cleared up. The scar on the exterior of his lip was identifiable at close quarters.
Barrister Derek Ryan, representing the Minister for Public Expenditure, remarked to the High Court that, due to conflicting medical reports, he did not believe Garda Kelly had suffered Post Traumatic Stress to the degree that it would justify an exceptional workplace compensation award.
Posted: November 28th, 2017
Posted: September 17th, 2017
A former worker at a sewerage plant has been awarded compensation for a slip and fall injury he suffered at work, after accepting some liability for the accident himself.
In February 2010, an employee at the Templemore sewerage plant in County Tipperary was working when he slipped and fell on a path while at work. A subsequent investigation discovered that the fall was due to sewerage overflowing from the flumes surrounding the inlet channels at the now decommissioned plant.
As a result of his accident, the employee suffered frequent headaches and sustained a back injury. The severity of the injury was such that he was prevented from adequately performing his job at the plant, and thus could not return to work. He sought legal counsel, and applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. However, the defendants-the party responsible for the sewerage plant, Templemore Town Council-denied consent to assess the claim.
As a result, the former employee of the plant sought authorisation from the Injuries Board to pursue his claim in court. This authorisation was granted, and a hearing to determine liability and assess damages took place last week at the High Court. The case was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Fullam. The judge was informed that the employee worked alone at the time of the accident, and that no safe system of work had been implemented by the council for the workers at the sewerage plant.
The council defended the claim for compensation for a slip and fall injury at work by arguing one of the employee´s duties was to keep the paths clear of hazards. They further stated that if he needed additional tools to complete his duties, he should have asked for them from his superiors. The council contested that the employee´s accident had occurred due to his own lack of care and negligence, and thus denied all liability.
Judge Fullam agreed with the defendants that the employee was partially responsible for his accident, and therefore he should take some responsibility. However he accepted the employee´s evidence that frequently the pumps in the plant experienced issues, and he did not have time to clean the paths on a regular basis. Judge Fullam also acknowledged that flumes surrounding the inlet channels were in a bad state on the day of the accident.
The judge said that he would have awarded the plaintiff €79,000 compensation for a slip and fall accident at work, however he was reducing the award by 40% to account for the plaintiff´s contributory negligence. The adjusted settlement of the claim consequently amounted to €47,400.
Posted: May 19th, 2017
Former servicemen have made claims against the Casement Airbase due to extensive exposure to toxic chemicals at the facility, and the associated damage to their-and their families’-health.
An online newspaper, the Journal, has published an article stating that a former Air Corps mechanic has made toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase to highlight a lack of health and safety procedures at the facility. The mechanic has claimed that servicemen, their partners and their children have suffered illnesses and development issues due to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals. He further claims that some people have even died due to exposure to the chemicals at the site.
The “whistle-blower” made the claims under a protected disclosure agreement in an address to Ministers, TDs, senators and a Defence Forces representative. Supporting documentation was provided, which claimed that up to twenty former servicemen may have died due to the exposure to toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the documents claim that five children born to parents who had been exposed to the chemicals were with cancer-related conditions or birth defects.
The former Air Corps mechanic told the assembly: “I have come across several personnel whose wives have had multiple miscarriages both in serving and in retired personnel. In one case, a retired member’s wife had eight miscarriages in succession. I am also aware of three personnel who shared in an office in Casement´s engineering wing whose wives all had a miscarriage in the same six-month timeframe.”
These latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase has been when there six personal injury claims already being made against the Defence Forces by former air corps servicemen. These former servicemen claim they were exposed to high levels of the restricted substance dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks associated with extensive exposure.
Furthermore, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has threatened to prosecute the Defence Forces. Last year, the HSA conducted an inspection of the working conditions at the Casement Airbase. Among a series of faults at the airbase, inspectors found a failure to conduct basic risk assessments or provide personal protective equipment to personnel working with hazardous substances.
When asked to comment on the latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase, a spokesperson for the Department of Defence told the Journal an independent investigator was reviewing the claims and there would be no comment until the final report was received and studied. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces told the Journal: “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”