Employee alleging she resigned after bullying had spoken of quitting before

Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 00:00

A former musical director of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin who said she resigned after being bullied by the cathedral’s dean had threatened to resign from her post while working with his predecessor, an Employment Appeals Tribunal heard yesterday.

Under cross-examination Judy Martin (45) agreed she had written two letters to the late dean, Rev Desmond Harmon, in 2005 and 2007. The 2005 letter contained “talk of resignation”, Ms Martin conceded, and the letter of 2007 followed two days’ leave she had taken to think about her work.

Ms Martin, who was employed at the cathedral from June 2003 to January 2011 and now lives in England, had taken a case of constructive dismissal against her employers. She claimed she was bullied by the current dean, the Very Rev Dermot Dunne, and had recounted a meeting with him in December 2008 when she felt physically intimidated and frightened. Rev Dunne denies the claims.

Michael McNamee BL, for Dean Dunne, said the dean had limited recollection of the meeting and asked her why she had not complained directly afterwards or spoken to the dean about his behaviour. She said she thought they might carry on and everything would be fine.

Incidents

After further incidents and a mediation meeting, Ms Martin wrote a long letter to the dean to explain her concerns.

Mr McNamee described the letter as long, rambling, subjective and “very personal”. He asked Ms Martin if she thought its length and detail might have been counterproductive.

“It was literally a cry for help,” Ms Martin responded.

Mr McNamee said the letter took the dean by surprise and he was “overwhelmed by its content, tone and manner”.

In May 2010, funding cuts resulted in a meeting between Ms Martin, her assistant and the dean in his office. She had said the dean authorised her to tell the choir of three options for funding cuts, the revealing of which later led to her being accused of gross misconduct. Mr McNamee said the dean would deny he had given permission.

The case will resume in January.