PR manager’s action against architecture firm is settled

Manager had sought to prevent termination of his employment

A legal action taken by a marketing and public relations manager who sought to prevent the termination of his employment with an architecture firm has been settled.

The action was brought by Gregory Higgins, who was last year hired by AIT Architecture Ltd, trading as Meitheal Design Partners.

Last month he applied on an ex-parte basis (only one side was represented) for court orders restraining the defendant company from terminating his contract of employment and from appointing another person to carry out his duties at the firm.

Mr Justice Senan Allen at that point granted him permission to give short notice of the proceedings on the company. The judge said he was not prepared at this stage of the proceedings to grant an injunction preventing the defendant from appointing any other person from carrying out his duties.

When the case returned before the court on Wednesday, Mark Connaughton SC, for Mr Higgins, said the entire proceedings had been resolved in terms that are satisfactory to both parties. He said both sides were consenting to an order striking out the action without making any orders.

No further details about the agreement were shared before the court.

Ms Justice Emily Egan agreed to strike out the case.

Previously the court heard Mr Higgins from Courthill, Lyre, Carrignavar, Cork, claimed the unilateral termination of his employment as a marketing and public relations manager with the firm was both unprofessional and in breach of his contractual rights.

The court heard then that his claims were rejected by the company, which has a registered address in Kenmare, Co Kerry, but with its main office in Cork City. The company said his employment was lawfully terminated after multiple issues arose.

Solicitors for the defendant had also warned Mr Higgins that any interference with the firm’s business brand, reputation or profile would be dealt with in a robust manner.

Mr Higgins said he was at a loss to understand the defendant’s suggestions and denied any wrongdoing.

Probationary period

His counsel told the court then that on commencing work for the firm in May 2021, Mr Higgins was required to complete a three-month probationary period of employment, which expired last August.

No review was carried out by his employer, and counsel said Mr Higgins continued to carry out his duties without complaint or criticism.

However, difficulties allegedly arose with the company director between September and December of last year.

In a sworn statement Mr Higgins said a series of incidents resulted in him taking sick leave for a period. He said late last month he was informed that the company had decided not to continue his employment beyond an extended probationary period.

No investigation was ever carried out, and he could not challenge the decision, he had claimed.

He had claimed that following the completion of the three-month probationary period, his position at the company was permanent. The defendant’s referral to an extended probationary period was being used to avoid the express terms contained in his contract of employment, he had alleged.