Turner -v- O'Reilly trading as Fintan O'Reilly & Co. Solicitors, [2008] IEHC 92 (2008)

Docket Number:2008 1484 P
Party Name:Turner, O'Reilly trading as Fintan O'Reilly & Co. Solicitors
Judge:Hedigan J.
 
FREE EXCERPT

THE HIGH COURT

2008 No. 1484P

BETWEEN

ELIZABETH TURNER

PLAINTIFF

AND

FINTAN O'REILLY

TRADING AS FINTAN O'REILLY & COMPANY SOLICITORS

DEFENDANT

Judgment of Mr. Justice John Hedigan delivered on the 8th day of April, 2008.

The plaintiff is a legal executive who has worked for the past eleven and a half years for the defendant, who is a firm of solicitors practising in Elliot House, St. Mary's Square, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. She joined the firm as a receptionist and has worked her way up to the position of legal executive. Her work primarily involves conveyancing work. There is no written contract of employment between her and the defendant. There is no written disciplinary procedure in the firm. The application is an application for orders:-

(1) Restraining the defendant from dismissing the plaintiff,(2) Restraining the defendant from appointing any other person to her position,

(3) An order to afford full rights of appeal to an independent third party arising out of any disciplinary action that may be imposed upon her,

(4) An order requiring the defendant to pay her salary, bonuses, expenses and pension contributions.The Background

Between the 4th February, 2008 and the 18th February, 2008, a dispute arose in relation to the plaintiff's salary between her and the defendant. Whilst the evidence is somewhat contradictory, this dispute became quite heated. On the 18th the defendant handed the plaintiff a letter which reported to dismiss her there and then and required her resignation by the following Friday. She was to leave the office immediately. No disciplinary action had been taken against the plaintiff at this stage. Heated exchanges followed the transmission of this letter and the plaintiff left her employment there and then. On the 20th February, 2008, the plaintiff received a letter from Gerard Gallagher, solicitor of the same firm. This letter informed her that the defendant had delegated him to conduct an inquiry concerning certain allegations of gross misconduct alleged against her by the defendant and he set them out. These related to the heated exchanges and included allegations she had made derogatory remarks about other staff members. His letter went on to notify her that she was:-"Now being put on paid suspension pending the outcome of my investigation into the allegations of gross misconduct being laid against you." The letter invited her to a meeting, with representation if she wished, in order to reply to these allegations...

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