Templeogue College to pay nearly €40,000 to teacher subjected to ‘multiple and sustained acts of penalisation’

Jenny Clancy ‘intimidated’ by principal at August 2022 meeting and had disciplinary proceedings instigated against her

Teachers, including Jenny Clancy, lodged a collective grievance in 2022 raising concerns about health and safety, the loss of staff facilities and about student discipline. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Templeogue College has been ordered to pay nearly €40,000 to a teacher who was subjected to “multiple and sustained acts of penalisation” for putting her name to a collective staff grievance.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) made the award after ruling that Jenny Clancy, who taught Spanish part-time at the South Dublin boys secondary school run by the Spiritan Education Trust, was “intimidated” by principal Niamh Quinn at a meeting in August 2022 – as well as being subject to unfair treatment, changes to her working hours and having disciplinary proceedings instigated against her.

The employment tribunal awarded €39,912 on foot of Ms Clancy’s complaint under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 – a sum worth 15 months’ salary – in a decision released to the parties on Monday.

The ruling was made after the school closed its case last week without presenting any witness evidence – its lawyers having previously told the Commission that the principal, Ms Quinn, would give evidence denying and disputing claims of indiscipline at the school as well as her own alleged conduct towards Ms Clancy.


Teachers lodged a collective grievance in the spring of 2022 raising concerns about health and safety, the loss of staff facilities and about student discipline. These included an alleged assault on one teacher and claims that a student had filmed another teacher’s “backside”.

In evidence to the tribunal in February, Ms Clancy had likened the school under Ms Quinn’s leadership to a “ticking time-bomb”, where students had begun to feel they had “the run of the place” due to the way the principal had handled certain incidents.

Ms Clancy had argued she was penalised for putting her name to the grievance when her timetable for the term starting in September 2022 was changed, requiring her to teach in the afternoons and upending childcare arrangements she said had been agreed with Ms Quinn’s predecessor before she agreed to teach at the school.

Ms Clancy’s case as that when she went to a meeting in a bid to address the matter with Ms Clancy Ms Quinn became “frenzied” and shouted at her. Later, she said, she was informed that disciplinary proceedings were being brought against her.

Ms Clancy’s barrister, Conor Duff BL, appearing instructed by Doyle Legal, said that despite his client repeatedly asking Ms Quinn to tell her what she was being accused of – to the point of having her solicitors issue a legal letter – the charge was never forthcoming, he said.

Although adjudicating officer Breiffní O’Neill considered the school board’s handling of a grievance brought by Ms Clancy in September 2022, which was rejected, to be “inadequate and lazy”, its handling of the matter had not amounted to penalisation, he wrote. He added that Ms Clancy “was not penalised” by the school when an independent panel rejected her grievance following a hearing in November that year.

Mr O’Neill ruled Ms Clancy’s complaint well-founded. He wrote that he could not take into account Ms Clancy’s “significant legal costs” in bringing the complaint, and accepted arguments from the school’s barrister Rosemary Mallon BL that any “stress or emotional toll” Ms Clancy had suffered should have been brought to another legal forum.

However, he added: “I believe that an award at the very bottom of the scale would be inappropriate given the multiple and sustained acts of penalisation.”