KBC bank manager challenges alleged ‘contrived redundancy’

Manager had been in mediation with bank arising from ‘flawed’ disciplinary process

The action against KBC Bank Ireland plc has been brought by Róisín Healy, who has been employed since 2015 as the retail hub manager at the bank’s Wilton branch in Cork. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The action against KBC Bank Ireland plc has been brought by Róisín Healy, who has been employed since 2015 as the retail hub manager at the bank’s Wilton branch in Cork. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A manager with KBC Bank has launched a High Court action challenging an alleged “contrived redundancy”.

The action against KBC Bank Ireland plc has been brought by Róisín Healy, who has been employed since 2015 as the retail hub manager at the bank’s Wilton branch in Cork.

Ms Healy’s role was to manage that branch and its employees, and to seek new business.

At the High Court, her counsel Eoin Clifford SC said she was informed last month she was to be made redundant.

Counsel said KBC had “contrived a redundancy situation” and his client wanted the court to intervene to prevent her being removed from her post.

His client had been in a mediation with KBC arising out of a “totally flawed” disciplinary process which was conducted in “violation of fair procedures” by the bank, counsel said.

The mediation, by an independent third party, commenced in late September and was due to recommence on October 14th last, he said. However, on the morning of October 14th, Ms Healy was informed she was to be made redundant as KBC intended to carry out a serious reorganisation of its organisation.

Bullying complaints

Counsel said his client was subject in 2017 to complaints of bullying from a co-worker. She denied the claims and had engaged with KBC’s internal investigation into the allegations. Arising out of that process, following a successful appeal by Ms Healy and a rehearing, KBC made a finding against her and imposed sanctions including that she should be moved to another branch and receive a verbal warning.

The matter went to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which in 2018 made a recommendation including that there was a shortfall in how the complaints were investigated.

The WRC recommendation also stated that KBC had made a cardinal error in seeking to remove Ms Healy from her manager’s position, he said.

The WRC said the disciplinary process was “so flawed” and “void of fair procedures” that it was not necessary to go further in the matter and had recommended the sanctions be removed.

Counsel outlined that Ms Healy was on sick leave from November 2017, due to stress from the €65,000-a-year post, but told the bank last March that she was ready to return.

As a result of the purported redundancy, she wants various orders, including injunctions restraining KBC terminating her contract of employment or from treating her as being anything other than employed with the bank. On Thursday, Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds granted the ex parte application by Ms Healy’s lawyers for permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on KBC. The judge also indicated the parties should seek to recommence the mediation process. The matter will return before the High Court next week.