The Employment Appeals Tribunal has provisionally set aside three days in September to hear arguments in a case in which a former Ryanair pilot alleges he was unfairly dismissed for "gross misconduct".
Capt John Goss was dismissed by the airline in August 2013 just days after he appeared in a Channel 4 television programme which Ryanair claims made defamatory allegations regarding its commitment to safety.
On Monday, the Employment Appeals Tribunal heard Captain Goss, who had worked for the airline for 26 years and was a leading member of representative body the Ryanair Pilots Group, first made the allegations in a newspaper article in May 2013.
Counsel for Ryanair, Martin Hayden SC, told the tribunal Ryanair’s chief pilot had written to Mr Goss after the article appeared, asking him to clarify his concerns.
‘Exchange of correspondence’
Mr Hayden said that, “after an exchange of correspondence”, Mr Goss “confirmed he had no safety concerns” in an open letter to the company.
However, Mr Hayden said Mr Goss went on to appear in a Channel 4 television programme in which Ryanair alleges the issue of safety concerns were raised again.
Mr Hayden said Ryanair was in the processing of suing Mr Goss for alleged defamation, and was seeking a judicial review of the tribunal’s handling of Mr Goss’s unfair dismissals case.
He said every defendant was entitled to have their case heard reasonably quickly, but there had been delays in the tribunal’s processing of Mr Goss’s case against his client.
Mr Hayden said Mr Goss had also taken a case against the airline before the Equality Tribunal, alleging Ryanair had retired him at the age of 60 instead of at 65 years.
Mr Hayden said this was patently untrue, as Mr Goss had been dismissed for gross misconduct two months before his 60th birthday.
He also told tribunal chairwoman Fiona Crawford BL the airline was opposing Mr Goss’s right to apply for an adjournment of the unfair dismissal case because the application had not been made within a certain timeframe.
The Ryanair team was present he said, with additional witnesses from the Irish Aviation Authority, and he suggested Mr Goss was time-barred from applying for an adjournment.
However after legal submission from Cathy Maguire, counsel for Mr Goss, and a short break, Ms Crawford said the tribunal would exercise its discretion and hear the application for an adjournment.
However, given the lateness of the hour, Ms Crawford said she was provisionally setting aside September 16th, 17th and 18th for further arguments in the case.
She cautioned the tribunal may come to its decision on whether to allow the adjournment in the meantime, and if that decision was negative then the days would not be needed.
She said developments at the Equality Tribunal may negate the proposed three-day hearing.