Woman who told colleague to ‘shove his job up his ass’ seeks to prevent dismissal

Receptionist and administrator at meat processing company denies resigning

The judge at the High Court heard that Lisa Flanagan accepts that following an incident at work with a senior colleague she claims had been bullying her she used intemperate language, became upset, emotional, and threatened to quit. Photograph: iStock

The judge at the High Court heard that Lisa Flanagan accepts that following an incident at work with a senior colleague she claims had been bullying her she used intemperate language, became upset, emotional, and threatened to quit. Photograph: iStock

 

A woman who admits telling a senior male colleague she claims has bullied her to “shove his job up his ass” has brought a High Court action to stop the meat processing company they work for from terminating her employment.

Lisa Flanagan, who for over 20 years has worked as a receptionist and administrator for Martin Jennings Wholesale Limited with a registered office Neale Road, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo has asked the High Court for an injunction preventing her dismissal from her job.

The case on Wednesday came before Mr Justice Senan Allen, who on an ex-parte basis granted her lawyers permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on the company.

The judge heard that Ms Flanagan accepts that following an incident at work with a senior colleague she claims had been bullying her she used intemperate language, became upset, emotional, and threatened to quit.

However, she denies ever formally resigning from the company, as has been claimed by the defendant.

Shortly after that incident late last year she claims was “taken aback” when she received an email from the company informing her that her resignation had been accepted.

She claims the company is attempting to wrongfully dismiss her and says she will suffer irreparable damage if the company is allowed to terminate her employment.

Conor Power SC for Ms Flanagan told the court that his client, the mother of two young children, had been a model employee and her career with the company had been without incident.

‘Antiquated’

In a sworn statement to the court Ms Flanagan of Lecarrow, Hollymount, Co Mayo said the company is “very antiquated in many ways”.”

While it has some 100 workers, and generates €50 million in sales, there was a lack of gender diversity, with less than a quarter of the entire work force female, she said.

She was one of just three women in the firm’s head office.

She said that in recent times a senior male colleague has been aggressive, discourteous, and unprofessional towards her.

She claims that on one occasion he shouted and roared at her after he found that an Aldi bathroom spray was being used in a workplace toilet that was purportedly for the use of females, but was used by male staff including her superior. She said that her superior expressed a view to her that “Anne Heffernan of Dunnes Stores” would be “extremely angry” to find a product from Aldi was being purchased by the defendant.

She claims that on another occasion, her superior got aggressive, exploded with anger, and shouted with her over a workplace report she compiled.

She claims that in an incident in December, he again shouted at her aggressively at her over the preparation of another report, despite her request to him “not to speak with her in this manner”.

She said she became upset, told him that he could get somebody else to do the report and that he was bullying her.

She said she “tidied her desk” and said she was “leaving”.

She accepts and regrets using “intemperate language” and that she told him he could “shove his job up his ass”.

She then spoke with a senior executive at the company, whom she told she would write a letter of resignation.

However, following that conversation, she agreed to go home, “let the dust settle” and that matters would be dealt with a few days’ time.

She made a formal complaint, or a protected disclosure, to the company that she was being bullied and harassed by her superior.

However, she claims her complaint was ignored and the company informed her that its position was that she had resigned her position.

She was later informed that had she not resigned the company would have been left with no alternative other than to deal with her her behaviour through a disciplinary process.

She denies any misconduct and says she is entitled to have any such allegation fairly determined.

Independent investigator

Given her own complaint against her superior she claims that any investigation into the issues would have to be carried out by an independent investigator.

She also claims that for a period she had been certified as medically unfit for work due to stress, but now wants to return to her job, in what she says is a safe environment.

In her action against the company, she seeks various orders and declarations from the company, including one restraining the defendant from terminating her position of employment.

She also seeks a declaration that she is an employee of the defendant company, that the company consider her grievances and conduct any disciplinary related issues in accordance with fair procedures.

She further seeks damages for wrongful dismissal and for detrimental treatment she claims she has suffered for making what she claims is a protected disclosure.

The matter was adjourned to a date in February.