Unfair dismissal claim against McInerney Holdings to proceed
A tribunal has cleared the way for a €1 million unfair dismissal claim by former McInerney Holdings plc managing director Barry O’Connor against the company.
Mr O’Connor claims McInerney Holdings unfairly dismissed him in April 2010. The company’s current directors argued yesterday that he had never worked for the company but for one of its subsidiaries, Gaskan.
Following a four-hour hearing, an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), chaired by barrister Fiona Crawford, ruled that Mr O’Connor had, in fact, been an employee of McInerney Holdings plc.
The finding means he can proceed with his unfair dismissal claim against McInerney, the parent of the former listed house -building group.
The tribunal can award up to two years’ pay in compensation to workers it finds were unfairly dismissed from their jobs.
Mr O’Connor earned €574,000 in his final full year as managing director of McInerney, although he took a pay cut in 2010 that would have reduced his basic pay to €240,000 from €446,930.
Two McInerney directors, Kevin Lynch and John Garratt, who represented the company at the hearing yesterday, indicated that they will argue that Mr O’Connor resigned and thus could not have been unfairly dismissed. During the hearing, they several times raised the fact that the company had paid Mr O’Connor’s half a million euro in 2008 and 2009, when it was losing money.
He responded by saying that he “put more into the company than I took out of it”. Mr O’Connor said that he invested €4 million when the group had a rights issue in 2007 and put in more than £1 million in 1997.
“I would want to be working for 20 years to get that back at the rate of half a million a year,” he said.
The arguments put forward by Mr Lynch and Mr Garratt were founded mainly on the fact that Gaskan employed Mr O’Connor and then invoiced McInerney Holdings plc for his services.
Mr O’Connor’s legal advisers, Noel Smyth and Partners, and barrister, Daragh Breen, argued that, as McInerney Holdings plc had effective control over him and provided the funds to pay him, it was the employer.
Mr Lynch and Mr Garratt both noted several times that their task in presenting their case was hampered by the fact that they could not find or get access to any company documents when they took over in August last year.
They clashed several times with Ms Crawford over the relevance of a number of issues that they attempted to raise.