Thursday 23 February 2017

€40,000 for PR woman sacked after ending affair with boss

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A FORMER air hostess who had a fling with the married owner of the Dundalk Football Club has been awarded €40,000 for being unfairly dismissed by the club after she ended the affair.

Lisa Kelly, a former Ryanair flight attendant, was unfairly sacked by the club's CEO "by reason of the ending of the personal relationship between her and one of the directors", the Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled.

The tribunal also found that wealthy businessman and club CEO Gerry Matthews had wrongly "acted as adjudicator in the claimant's dismissal when he had a personal interest in the matter".

The tribunal rejected Mr Matthews's claim that Ms Kelly blackmailed him by threatening to tell his wife about the affair when he refused to withdraw a verbal warning over her performance as the club's marketing manager.

It also rejected his claims that she withheld €50,000 in sponsorship funds from a local businessman into her own bank account unless he lifted the warning.

"The claim ... is not accepted by the tribunal because the said donation was paid to the club in April 2008 while the claimant was dismissed in June 2008," the tribunal said in its ruling published yesterday.

Boyfriend

Ms Kelly, whose boyfriend was Mr Matthews's nephew, was hired by Mr Matthews as the club's marketing manager in 2006.

However, the tribunal found that she was never given a contract of employment by him and he failed to "implement any fair procedure in dismissing her". Ms Kelly told the tribunal that Mr Matthews instigated the affair in May 2007 and it lasted almost a year until she ended it in March 2008.

She claimed the relationship included weekends away at the luxurious Castle Leslie; a claim that Mr Matthews called fictitious.

He also rejected her claim that he was upset when she ended the affair in March 2008.

He said the relationship was more of a brief fling that ended in December 2007.

Encounter

However, he did admit to having an encounter with Ms Kelly in March 2008.

Ms Kelly told the tribunal that she ended the affair because Mr Matthews had started to act jealously towards her.

She claimed he told her "she would never work in the town again and that he would plaster her name on the internet".

The tribunal also heard evidence from the club promotions officer who testified that Ms Kelly -- who reported directly to him -- had become increasingly difficult to deal with since mid-2007 when she alleged the affair began.

He said Ms Kelly had threatened to quit and take company files and sponsor contacts with her, noting that hard copy files of sponsorship files did go missing when she was sacked.

He also testified that he received a verbal warning himself over her failure to collect sponsorship money.

Irish Independent

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