Blood transfusion board nurse takes case to prevent her sacking

Employer says she engaged in gross insubordination by refusing to apologise to staff

Investigations arose following complaints made by four of her colleagues that she had engaged in inappropriate workplace behaviour. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Investigations arose following complaints made by four of her colleagues that she had engaged in inappropriate workplace behaviour. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

An assistant director of nursing with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service has brought High Court proceedings aimed at preventing her employer from dismissing her.

The action has been brought by Annette Hughes who was informed by the blood transfusion service in June that she was being dismissed after her employer held she had engaged in gross insubordination by refusing to obey an order from a superior to apologise to staff members who made complaints about her.

Ms Hughes claims that her employer is not entitled to dismiss her, on grounds including that no investigation was carried out by her employer into allegations she had engaged in serious misconduct. She also claims that she had been denied fair procedures as set down in her employer’s disciplinary procedures.

At the High Court on Tuesday, Feichín McDonagh SC, who appeared with Wendy Doyle Solicitors for Ms Hughes, said she was subject to investigations under the blood transfusion service’s dignity-at-work policy.

The investigations arose following complaints made by four of her colleagues that she had engaged in inappropriate workplace behaviour and over her alleged failure to comply with an instruction from her manager.

It is claimed Ms Hughes, of Hillcourt Road, Glenageary, Co Dublin, was instructed by her superior to address the four complainant employees “in a specific manner, to apologise to them and not address them in respect of the grounds of their concerns”.

Refused to comply

A report conducted by an investigator into the allegation she had refused to comply with the direction from her superior found she had not breached the dignity-at-work policy.

However, her employer formed the view from the report that she had been guilty of an act of gross insubordination and had damaged irreparably the necessary relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee.

She had subsequently been summoned to a disciplinary hearing, which, Mr McDonagh said, was effectively a “sentencing hearing”.

By letter on June 20th, she had been informed that she was being dismissed for serious misconduct with immediate effect and, although she had appealed the decision, the chief executive of the blood transfusion service upheld the decision.

Ms Hughes had brought the High Court proceedings seeking an order quashing the decision to dismiss her. Judge Tony O’Connor granted her leave, on an ex parte basis, to have the decision to dismiss her judicially reviewed, and adjourned the case until October.