Hotel manager gets order halting allegedly ‘flawed’ process

Fergal Ryan, general manager of Dalata-operated Clayton Hotel, gets ex parte order

Dalata’s Clayton Hotel in Sligo.

Dalata’s Clayton Hotel in Sligo.

 

A Co Sligo hotel manager has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing an allegedly “flawed” disciplinary hearing proceeding against him.

Fergal Ryan, general manager of the Clayton Hotel, got the order on an ex parte basis (one side only represented) on Thursday against his employer, Dalata Hotel Group.

Mr Ryan claims a disciplinary hearing, which commenced last month, had fallen into error but the chairperson of the internal company investigation had decided to proceed with it.

The court was told issues had arisen after two hotel employees called as witnesses for the defendant company had said, in statements made before an independent solicitor, they were put under pressure by the company to say things they had not said.

Patrick O’Reilly SC, for Mr Ryan, said the disciplinary hearing was flawed to the degree it was “doomed”. His client, who had previously fully participated in the disciplinary process, had now withdrawn from it.

Mr Ryan, who has worked in the hotel industry for 28 years and with Dalata since 2014, said disciplinary proceedings were commenced against him earlier this year after he declined financial offers from his employer to leave his role.

The court heard Mr Ryan is accused of paying former employees totalling €300 from petty cash to do a day’s work in the hotel’s restaurant when the premises was short-staffed. The payments were all duly vouched, the court was told. He is also accused of paying two hotel porter staff €70 each to monitor entry to the hotel’s lobby when there was a major security operation in Sligo. Those payments were also vouched.

Breach of policy

It is claimed the cash payments were in breach of company policy and, as a result, internal disciplinary proceedings were brought against Mr Ryan by his employer.

It was also alleged the two employees had been asked to work as security guards. Mr Ryan said he had not asked them to provide security but asked them to keep a lookout for any trouble and, if anything happened, to lock the doors and call gardaí. Neither employee holds a licence that would allow them to work as security operatives.

Mr O’Reilly, with Eoin O’Shea, instructed by solicitor Barry Creed, said a number of issues concerning the two employees, who acted as monitors in the hotel, arose during the course of the disciplinary hearing. In statements made before an independent solicitor, both men had said they were, following a call from senior management with the company, given pre-typed forms by the company.

Both men said, while they felt they have been pressured to say otherwise, they were asked by Mr Ryan to be vigilant for trouble on the date in question and to report any incidents to their duty manager or if necessary call the gardaí. Arising from that, Mr Ryan’s solicitor had asked that the disciplinary process be halted but that was refused, resulting in the injunction application. Ms Justice Theresa Pilkington, granting the injunction, said she was satisfied a serious issue that requires adjudication by the court has been raised and returned the matter to next week.