Financial Services Union (Represented by Mr. Matthew Jolley B.L. Instructed by Bowler Geraghty & Co) v Gerry Hanna (Represented by Mr. Desmond Ryan B.L. Instructed by Reddy Charlton)

CourtLabour Court (Ireland)
Judgment Date13 January 2020
Judgment citation (vLex)[2020] 1 JIEC 1307

Labour Court




ADJ-00017540 CA-00022685-001

Financial Services Union (Represented by Mr. Matthew Jolley B.L. Instructed by Bowler Geraghty & Co)
Gerry Hanna (Represented by Mr. Desmond Ryan B.L. Instructed by Reddy Charlton)

Chairman: Ms Jenkinson

Employer Member: Mr Marie

Worker Member: Ms Tanham



1. Appeal of Adjudication Officer Decision No(S). ADJ-00017540 CA-00022685-001.


2. The Appellant appealed the Decision of the Adjudication Officer to the Labour Court on 21 August 2019. A Labour Court hearing took place on 19 December 2019. The following is the Court's Determination:


This is an appeal by Mr Gerry Hanna against the Decision of an Adjudication Officer ADJ-00017540 CA-00022685-001 under the Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015 (the Acts) against his employer, Financial Services Union.


For ease of reference the parties are given the same designation as they had at first instance. Hence Mr Gerry Hanna will be referred to as “the Complainant” and Financial Services Union will be referred to as “the Respondent”.


The Complainant claimed to have been discriminated against by the Respondent on the disability ground contrary to section 6(2)(g) of the Acts.


He referred his claim to the Workplace Relations Commission on 17th October 2018.


By Decision dated 11th July 2019, the Adjudication Officer found in favour of the Complainant and awarded €12,500 in compensation.

Position of the Parties

As agreed with the parties, the facts of this case are not in dispute. It is also common case between the parties that a contravention of the Acts has occurred. The parties are further agreed that the findings of the Adjudication Officer are accepted by both parties and that the only matter in contention between them is the quantum of the award made by the Adjudication Officer. The Court proceeded to hear the case on that basis.


The Respondent is a trade union representing staff in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and those employed by Irish institutions in Great Britain and overseas. The Complainant has been employed with the Union since 23 rd June 2005 as a Senior Industrial Relations Officer.


The Complainant suffers from a rare form of nocturnal epilepsy, and was absent on certified sick leave, from 23rd May 2015 until 8th October 2018. In November 2017, the Complainant wrote to then General Secretary, inquiring in relation to the Respondent's return to work policy. By email dated 7th November 2017, the Respondent stated that he ‘did not think that the time was right’ for the Complainant to return to work. He then stated that if the situation changed dramatically, then the Complainant would be independently assessed prior to a return to work. The Complainant responded immediately seeking assistance in moving forward with the return to work process.


On 12th February 2018, the Complainant wrote to the General Secretary expressing his frustration with the lack of engagement by the Respondent and requested to meet and make arrangements for his return. On 20th February 2018, the General Secretary declined to meet with him and requested that he direct all issues in relation to his employment with the Respondent's legal representative. By email dated 12th March 2018, the Complainant sent the General Secretary a copy of his medical certificate from his GP, confirming his fitness to return to work from 19th March 2018 on a phased basis. On 29th March 2018, the Respondent's solicitor wrote to the Complainant's solicitors, informing them that the new General Secretary would not be meeting with the Complainant. He also noted that he expected a comprehensive medical report relating to the Complainant's condition be supplied. On 3rd April 2018, the Complainant wrote to the account's manager in the Respondent organisation, advising him that he had completed the documentation and again requested a meeting with the General Secretary in advance of submitting the form.


On 24th April 2018, the Respondent's Solicitor wrote to the Complainant's Solicitors, again requesting the information, it did not address the Complainant's request for a meeting. On 3rd May 2018, the Complainant's solicitors wrote to the Respondent's solicitors notifying them that the Complainant did not currently have any employment issues with his employer that required legal intervention and that he was not agreeable to having his employment relationship conducted through a third party, with whom he has no contractual relationship.


In this letter, it stated that the Respondent's refusal to engage directly with the Complainant exacerbated his stress levels which could result in triggering an epileptic seizure. Furthermore, it stated that the Respondent's refusal to...

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