Academic on €154,000 salary has no work to do, Labour Court hears

Prof Robert Galavan alleges he is being penalised for making protected disclosure

An academic on a €154,000 salary claims he has had no role or work at Maynooth University for the last 4.5 years as a result of being penalised by the institution’s authorities for making a protected disclosure.

An academic on a €154,000 salary claims he has had no role or work at Maynooth University for the last 4.5 years as a result of being penalised by the institution’s authorities for making a protected disclosure.

 

An academic on a €154,000 salary claims he has had no role or work at Maynooth University for the last 4½ years as a result of being penalised by the institution’s authorities for making a protected disclosure.

Prof Robert Galavan, chair in strategic management in Maynooth’s school of business, claims he was placed on secondment to the college’s Edward M Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention in 2016 after raising concerns about academic governance and health and safety issues.

He told the Labour Court on Friday that his expertise was “about as far away from mediation studies as you can get”.

Since being directed by university president Prof Philip Nolan in August 2016 to move on secondment to the institute, Prof Galavan (55) said he had worked from home as no role had been identified for him. He said he cannot apply for research grants because of his position and feels is “drifting off into obscurity”.

He claimed the period had been a struggle as he had to face “pretty appalling” rumours where colleagues suspected he had either been “fired, had affairs with people or had been caught for something I did”.

The court was hearing an appeal by Prof Galavan against a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission that he had not made a protected disclosure under the terms of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and therefore he could not have been penalised under the legislation.

Situation

The university claims that Prof Galavan was placed on a secondment as a measure to resolve a situation where “deep divisions” had emerged between him and the head of the school of business, Prof Peter McNamara.

However, Prof Galavan said he did not believe there were deep divisions with his line manager. The court heard that Prof McNamara had accused Prof Galavan of bullying and being disruptive.

Kiawana Ennis BL, for Prof Galavan, claimed a series of emails sent by her client to Prof McNamara about concerns of breaches of academic governance constituted a protective disclosure. Ms Ennis said Prof Nolan also became aware of the issue. Counsel said Prof Galavan subsequently raised concerns about overcrowding in lectures and its potential impact on the health and safety of students and staff.

Under cross-examination by Conor Power SC for the university, Prof Galavan rejected suggestions that the college authorities had attempted to facilitate mediation between himself and Prof McNamara.

He claimed the only mediation was about his possible role at the Kennedy Institute, which he refused to take part in.

The hearing was adjourned until a later date.