Court to reconsider finding that Dublin teacher was unfairly dismissed

High Court directs Labour Court on Malahide school ruling

High Court judge has directed the Labour Court to reconsider its finding.

High Court judge has directed the Labour Court to reconsider its finding.

 

A High Court judge has directed the Labour Court to reconsider its finding that a teacher was unfairly dismissed when her fixed-term contract was not renewed by a Co Dublin school.

The Board of Management of Malahide Community School had appealed on points of law arising from the Labour Court decision in favour of teacher Dawn-Marie Conaty.

Ms Conaty began working for the school in August 2013 without a written contract and that status continued for the school years 2013/14 and 2014/2015.

Following an interview in October 2015, she was advised she had been successful and was given a fixed-term “whole-time” teacher temporary contract to cover the period October 8th, 2015 to August 31st, 2016. She and the school principal signed that contract.

After she failed to get employment for the school year 2016/2017, she brought a claim for unfair dismissal but the school board argued the unfair dismissal legislation did not apply because of section 2.2.b of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977.

Section 2.2.b excludes dismissal where the employment was under a fixed-term written contract signed by employer and employee and the dismissal consisted only of the expiry of that term without it being renewed under the contract.

In November 2017, the Labour Court found an exclusion provision in Ms Conaty’s fixed-term contract of October 20th, 2015 could not be relied upon to prevent application of the 1977 Act and therefore Ms Conaty was unfairly dismissed when her contract was not renewed in September 2016.

The Labour Court did not accept Ms Conaty fully understood the contract of October 2015. It noted neither she, nor the school, were aware when both signed it of the possible implications of signing the contract for her rights under the 1977 Act.

The school had argued before the Labour Court that, in signing the contract, she abandoned her prior employment status and fully understood the contract contained the necessary waiver of rights under the 1977 Act.