Merck executive in High Court challenge over ‘resignation’

Cork finance director told she is ‘deemed to have resigned’

Ms Whooley wants unjunctions preventing Merck dismissing her.

Ms Whooley wants unjunctions preventing Merck dismissing her.


A 52-year-old finance director has launched a High Court action challenging a contention by her pharmaceutical company employer of 25 years that she is “deemed to have resigned”.

The action has been brought by Barbara Whooley against Merck Millipore Ltd, Tullagreen, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork whose German-based parent is Merck KGaA.

The court heard Ms Whooley, of Lindville, Blackrock Road, Cork recently returned to work in Ireland after spending the last four years on secondment to the German parent.

She claims, on her return to Cork in early October, she was asked to leave the premises by a HR manager at the firm.

She then took a flight to Germany and attended for work at the parent company but was told by a superior at the end of the working day to “go home”, the court was told.

Ms Whooley, a qualified accountant, was subsequently told by her employer she was “deemed to have resigned” from the company in early October and it had said it would pay her a further three months salary.

At the High Court on Thursday, Tom Mallon BL, for Ms Whooley, said his client strongly disputes her employer’s contention and fears its actions will damage her reputation.

Counsel said there is no concept in Irish law where an employee is “deemed to have resigned”.

Counsel said his client had agreed in 2014 to an initial two-year secondment to Germany which involved a lot of travel. The secondment was extended by another two years and finished earlier this year.

Ms Whooley’s work in Germany was “highly successful” and she had received a “triple-A rating”, which only the top 2 per cent of employees achieve, counsel said.


However, things had recently gone awry after his client decided to return to work in Cork and did not want to maintain the secondment agreement.

While it was accepted her job in Cork had long since gone, she was looking for a similar position to that held before the secondment or an appropriate severance package.

Counsel said his client was now concerned, given her purported departure, her reputation will be damaged.

She was seeking damages and various orders against the defendants, including a declaration she did not resign from her employment with the Irish based company and remains an employee of Merck Millipore.

She also wants injunctions preventing the defendants dismissing her, interfering with her salary or benefits and, if necessary, and an injunction compelling her employer to pay her a severance package.

She further seeks an order restraining the German parent company from unlawfully interfering with the contractual relationship between her and Merck Millipore.

At the High Court on Monday, Ms Whooley’s lawyers got permission to serve short notice of her proceedings on Merck Millipore Ltd and Merck KGaA.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello granted the ex parte (one side only represented) application and returned the matter to next week.