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Saturday 30 August 2014

Former mayor 'bullied by female boss', tribunal told

Fiona Ellis

Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30

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Damien Molyneaux leaves the employment appeals tribunal on Adelaide Road. Picture:; Damien Eagers
Damien Molyneaux leaves the employment appeals tribunal on Adelaide Road. Picture:; Damien Eagers

A FORMER mayor was off sick from his job as a library caretaker for almost two years due to stress after he was "systematically" bullied by his female boss over a long period of time, a tribunal has heard.

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Damian Molyneaux took a case for unfair dismissal to an Employment Appeals Tribunal against Kildare County Council after he was fired for being absent from work for almost two years on sick leave.

Mr Molyneaux went on sick leave suffering from work-related stress in August 2009.

He was fired in June 2011 after he failed to return to work.

The 46-year old father-of-one had worked in Newbridge Library since 1998. Before that he was a part-time firefighter for 10 years. He is also former mayor of Newbridge and currently a member of Newbridge Town Council.

Mr Molyneaux told the tribunal he was too afraid to go back to his job because he was "in fear" of his alleged bully.

He told how on one occasion, after he met the woman in a hallway after she had been smoking in a toilet, she followed him into the men's toilets, pointed her finger in his face and threatened him to keep quiet saying: "I'll do you. I'll get rid of you."

However, director of HR Eamonn O'Sullivan said Mr Molyneaux's allegations of bullying were unspecified and not elaborated on enough to investigate. He said he considered the issues a "grievance".

MARATHON

Mr Molyneaux went out sick in August 2009.

In July 2010 the council's doctor certified him fit to work, which was disputed by Mr Molyneaux's own doctor.

A third doctor reported in January 2011 that Mr Molyneaux was fit to work.

The council then wrote twice to Mr Molyneaux to notify him to come back to work, otherwise serious action might be taken against him.

Mr Molyneaux agreed to return to work in February 2011.

However, an on-going chest infection and sinus problem prevented him from doing so.

The decision was made in May 2011 to terminate his employment.

Don Culliton, for Kildare County Council, said the local authority gave Mr Molyneaux every chance to return to work and said the "council did what any reasonable employer would do under the circumstances".

He drew attention to the fact that when Mr Molyneaux was off sick he was able to take part in a marathon in May in under five hours. He said "extreme efforts" were made by the council to assist Mr Molyneaux.

Mr Molyneaux's counsel Paul Henry said his client was able to walk the course because he had had a procedure to clear his sinus three days before.

He also said the council "rashly decided to terminate" his employment, didn't seek a second opinion regarding the chest infection and said the dismissal was unfair based on unfair procedures.

The tribunal retired to make their decision and will issue a written determination.

Irish Independent

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