Tech entrepreneur Ian Lucey has been ordered to pay nearly €20,000 for months of unpaid salary owed to a software developer.
Abhijeet Khopade’s complaint under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 against Mr Lucey’s BioObservation Systems Ltd, seeking unpaid wages totalling €19,713.45, was upheld by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in a decision released on Wednesday.
Mr Khopade said he had been given “assurances” that historical arrears on his €66,000-a-year salary as senior technology manager in 2019 and 2020 would be paid – but that he only got “intermittent payments”.
Appearing to defend the claim personally at a hearing in June 2021, Mr Lucey said the firm had “paid the complainant the amounts due in 2019 and 2020″.
Mr Lucey’s position at the time of the proceedings was that the company was “initiating proceedings in the High Court against the complainant for dereliction of duty”, adding that it was alleged the company had lost out on grant aid because of Mr Khopade. He also claimed that Mr Khopade had “harassed him”.
Adjudicating officer Kevin Baneham noted that Mr Lucey “opted to turn his camera off during this hearing and had previously indicated a concern that the hearing could be recorded”.
He said there was no issue with Mr Lucey staying off-camera given the broad definition of electronic communications technology in the emergency legislation on court procedure introduced for the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his decision, Mr Baneham wrote that Mr Khopade, whose net pay was €3,467 a month, had received sums ranging from €3,000 to €10,000 on five occasions between December 2019 and September 2020.
There was no dispute that the complainant “was not paid anything” in October or November 2019; from January to March 2020 or in June, August or October that year, the adjudicator added.
Mr Khopade’s employment had gone on until September 2020, he wrote.
“It is striking that the monies paid to the complainant were done so intermittently, with months where the complainant was not paid,” Mr Baneham wrote.
He wrote that the payments made to the worker “do not meet the wages accruing within the cognisable period”, adding that there was “no payslip or other document to suggest otherwise” before him.
Mr Baneham wrote that Mr Khopade had “restricted his claim to €19,713.45, even though he is owed a greater amount of money”.
He found the complainant was “entitled to recover this amount as wages” and made an order for the payment of the sum.