An executive with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has asked the High Court for an injunction restraining his employer from suspending him from his position.
Gabriel MacGrath claims he is the subject of a conspiracy and a concentrated effort to marginalise and ultimately remove him from his job at the CIF, which is the representative body for Ireland’s construction sector.
Mr MacGrath, with an address at the Fairways, Lucan, Co Dublin, is a certified accountant and has been the CIF’s head of accounting and finance since 2013.
He claims that late last month he received a letter from the CIF’s director general, Tom Parlon, informing him he has been suspended on full pay for alleged gross misconduct pending an investigation into a complaint against Mr MacGrath.
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It is claimed the complaint arises out of a meeting he had with a director of the CIF over his decision to approve an employee’s claim for expenses including coffee.
He denies the allegation against him, which he says does not amount to gross misconduct.
He also says he has been suspended without being granted a fair hearing by Mr Parlon.
He claims he has been treated unfairly and in breach of fair procedures and seeks an injunction lifting his suspension.
In a sworn statement to the court, he says he is the subject of a series of other complaints of alleged bullying and harassment, made by several different persons against him in March 2021, relating to alleged incidents going back to 2017.
Those complaints, he said, relate to matters including the tone of his voice at meetings, and that he was critical of some of the complainants in their day-to-day work.
He denies all the allegations against him and claims that unusually all of the complainants rejected any informal resolution.
He says the complaints are not genuine and the complainants and the CIF have conspired against him.
An investigator was appointed, but none of the complaints against him have been brought to a conclusion, he claims.
However, he says, the investigation against him has become tainted, that proper procedures have not been followed and is unlawful.
He also claims a complaint he made against another employee of the CIF in 2019 was not properly investigated by the CIF.
The complaints against him, he says, are reprisals for the complaints he made.
He also says that the investigation into the allegations against him have been delayed in a serious manner, and he has been prejudiced as a result.
Arising of the complaints he also says that he was required to move offices from the CIF’s premises in Canal House in Dublin to a premises in Clonskeagh.
He further claims duties and roles he carried out as part of his job were assigned to other people have been excluded from meetings. He alleges the ongoing investigation has stymied his ability to secure a promotion and adversely affected his health.
Represented by Conor Power SC, with James Kane BL, instructed by Boino Solicitors, he seeks orders from the court including an injunction preventing the CIF from suspending him or from taking any further steps in disciplinary proceedings against him, and that he be reinstated to his role.
Those orders, if granted, would remain in place until determination of the full hearing of his action, where he seeks damages for alleged breach of contract and his constitutional rights.
The matter was mentioned before the High Court on Thursday. Ms Justice Eileen Roberts granted Mr MacGrath’s lawyers, on an ex parte basis, permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the defendant.
The case will return to court later this month.