High Court should hear case first, tribunal is told
INDEPENDENT Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd has sought the adjournment of an unfair dismissal case taken by a former employee.
The group applied yesterday for a deferral of the action taken by journalist Gemma O'Doherty, of Shankill, in Dublin, at the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
It sought the adjournment, pending the outcome of a defamation case brought by Ms O'Doherty against Independent Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd and Group Editor-in-Chief Stephen Rae.
The tribunal heard that Ms O'Doherty, who worked for the newspaper group from 1995 until August last year, claims she was unfairly selected for redundancy.
Brian Kennedy SC, for the newspaper group, said she was selected for redundancy at a time when numbers in the editorial department were being reduced by 29 people.
Mr Kennedy said a decision was taken to make Ms O'Doherty redundant based on the nature of the services she provided, rather than the quality of the services she provided.
He said it was felt that the work could be more readily obtained from outside sources than from within the feature-writing department.
Mr Kennedy said that High Court proceedings were begun in February this year, and it is understood that personal injury proceedings are also under way.
He argued that there would be a clear overlap of issues in the various proceedings.
He argued that the interests of Mr Rae, who is not a party to the case before the tribunal but is a defendant in the High Court case, were not being taken into account. Mr Kennedy said there was also unfairness in that double, or possibly triple, recovery in the form of compensation was being sought, while the possibility of prejudicing the jury had to be considered.
He questioned whether the tribunal knew about the High Court case when Ms O'Doherty applied for her dismissal case to be given priority. He said the case was wrongly granted priority, when the High Court case had been taken first.
Counsel for Ms O'Doherty, Cathy Maguire, said it was the focus of employment legislation to give a quick resolution to disputes, to compensate for financial loss. She said the case should not be adjourned.
Both sides will make further submissions. The tribunal will make a decision on the adjournment application after June 9.