Bullying And Harassment At Work

Author:Mr Stephen O'Sullivan
Profession:Stephen O'Sullivan, Barrister

A synopsis of recent successful stress at work and bullying cases


In Sweeney v. Board of Management Ballinteer Community School (Unreported High Court (Herbert J.) 24/3/11) the plaintiff succeeded in a personal injury claim for bullying and harassment against a school. She had been home-school liaison coordinator and later a learning support teacher at the defendant school. The claimant was unsuccessful in applying for a post of responsibility and appealed that decision and argued that following that appeal the principal's behaviour towards her was hostile and dismissive. The plaintiff made a formal complaint of bullying and harassment in October 2006 and the investigator decided that the plaintiff had not been bullied or harassed in the period to September 2006. The ruling of the court was that the court would not revisit the complaints that formed the subject matter of that investigation. The court found that the treatment by the principal of the plaintiff in the period following March 2007 amounted to bullying or harassment. The incidents of bullying upheld include inter alia the engagement by the principal, without the knowledge of the defendant's board of management, of a private investigator to carry out covert surveillance of the plaintiff during college hours. This amounted to harassment of the plaintiff by him and was wholly inappropriate as a course of action to ensure the plaintiff was properly discharging her duties as home-school liaison co-ordination. The court found that the board of management was vicariously liable for this. The plaintiff had suffered clinical depression and was awarded damages, including aggravated damages and special damages totalling €88,625.

In Kelly v Bon Secours Health System Limited (Unreported High Court (Cross J.) 25/1/12) the plaintiff succeeded in a personal injury claim for bullying and harassment against the defendant. The court found the following incidents amounted to bullying

In 2004 inter-personal difficulties arose in the records department between the plaintiff and a co-worker, of which the defendant was aware or ought to have been aware, but took no steps to deal with initially, as a result of which the plaintiff suffered stress The defendant appointed an external candidate to a permanent position, for which the plaintiff had applied, in breach of agreed procedures between management and unions relating to the selection of internal candidates. The court accepted the...

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