Unfair dismissal case at US tech firm withdrawn at WRC

Former sales director alleges sacking after ‘manufactured investigation’

An unfair dismissal claim by the former Irish sales director of a US tech firm who had alleged he was sacked after a “manufactured investigation” has been withdrawn ahead of a series of scheduled hearings this week at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Two days of remote hearings before the Workplace Relations Commission had been set to take place starting on Monday into a complaint taken under the Unfair Dismissals Act against Keeper Security EMEA Ltd by its former sales director for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, John Maher.

Denying unfair dismissal, the company’s position had been that Mr Maher had an “anger issue” and behaved aggressively to colleagues.

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Giving evidence remotely from the United States at a hearing on February 2nd this year, Keeper Software’s founder, Darren Guccione, also said that Mr Maher “flew off the handle and started yelling” when the men met in the firm’s office in Cork city on November 5th, 2020.

“I did not go to Cork wanting to remove John from the company. I cared about him a lot, and I didn’t want him to leave at all. John has a lot of tremendous qualities. Unfortunately, the anger issue and the way that it impacted others and the way that it would quickly elevate became an issue,” Mr Guccione said.

‘Move on’

“It became clear to me it was like ‘whoah, I need to defuse this, John, let’s try to work through this’. He said: ‘Look, I’d just like to be paid and move on.’ I said: ‘How much?’ He said: ‘Two hundred thousand euro.’ I said: ‘That’s way too much money,’” Mr Guccione told the tribunal.

“That version of events is denied by the complainant… His evidence will be that it was you who was aggressive,” said Cathy McGrath, who appeared for Mr Maher earlier this year.

She put it to Mr Guccione in cross-examination that the independent investigator had examined several complaints in which Mr Maher was alleged to have spoken to colleagues in an “aggressive” manner but that the investigator had found his behaviour on those occasions to be “inappropriate”.

Mr Guccione said he wholly accepted the report of the independent investigator.

“I have to put it to you that the only resolution you sought was the termination of the complainant’s employment,” Ms McGrath said.

“That’s not true,” he replied. “Look the reason why we’re here is because there’s a galactical disagreement between the parties. When someone is belligerent and tells me they don’t want to be at the company… I take that at face value. That’s his decision,” the tech firm founder replied.

The case was adjourned by adjudicating officer Emile Daly on the previous date and appeared again in the WRC list for remote hearing on Monday and Tuesday this week.

However, a WRC official confirmed on Monday morning the matter had been “withdrawn” and would not be heard as scheduled.