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Friday 19 September 2014

Toolmaker awarded more than €73k for 'vicious and continuous' bullying at work

Judge says Stephen Harmon started immediately after he was taken on by engineering firm

Published 16/05/2014 | 17:05

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Stephen Harmon

A TOOLMAKER has been awarded more than €73,000 for what a judge described as "vicious and continuous" bullying he suffered at work.

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Ms Justice Mary Irvine said the bullying of Stephen Harmon started immediately after he was taken on by engineering firm, Hydramasters, of Butterly Business Park, Artane, Dublin.

Mr Harmon (29) of Coney Meadows, Athy, Co Kildare, sued Hydramasters where he worked from November 2011 to April 2012.

He claimed he was subjected to verbal and physical abuse, and aggressive behaviour, from another employee.

He said he was assaulted on a number of occasions by the other employee and while he was trying to operate machinery and, as a result, was put in danger.

It was further claimed that even though they were informed by letter of the bullying and harassment, Hydramasters failed to carry out  any or any adequate risk assessment or critical incident review of the situation.

The High Court heard the case was for assessment of damages only as judgment had already been obtained against the company. Hydramasters was not present in court for the case.

Ms Justice Irvine said the case related to vicious and continuous bullying inflicted by one employee who initially subjected Mr Harmon to verbal abuse saying he would break his face and calling him a "f... farmer."

She said Mr Harmon struck her as a rather gentle man who had tried to ease the situation and also asked the other employee politely to stop, but to no effect.

There was also an occasion in which Mr Harmon was lucky to escape serious injury  in an incident involving a forklift, she said.

The judge said at a meeting with the company to discuss a letter of complaint, Mr Harmon was told he was hypersensitive and there was criticism because he complained.

The judge said after that meeting Mr Harmon felt very let down  and it was not surprising he did not go back to work.

His health deteriorated and  for a time his life was more of less ruined, she said.

She awarded €35,000 in general damages and €38,844 for loss of earnings.

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