Sauna club owner fired from hotel job is awarded €25,000
A MEN'S sauna club owner, whose establishment attracted members of the gay community, has been awarded €25,000 after he was unfairly dismissed from his job at a hotel.
Eamon Ryan, of Burnscove, Kishykirk, Co Limerick, claimed he was fired from his position as leisure manager at the Charleville Park Hotel in Co Cork because of a "homophobic reaction" to his other business.
During an Employment Appeals Tribunal in Limerick earlier this year, the 44-year-old insisted he was open and honest about the men's sauna club in Shannon, Co Clare, and said he was a director of the business but did not work there.
The tribunal heard he was fired from his €38,000 position at the Charleville Park Hotel in August 2010 after working there for two years.
The married father took a case of unfair dismissals against Ambassador Court Ltd, trading as the Charleville Park Hotel.
He disputed he had breached his contract of employment with the hotel by being involved with his other business and he contended that the covenant upon which his employer sought to rely was neither binding nor enforceable.
Mr Ryan's wife Niamh said in evidence that her husband's dismissal had a "horrendous" impact on their financial situation.
Brendan Comerford, the general manager of the hotel, told the tribunal he received an anonymous phone call on July 29, 2010, to inform him that Mr Ryan was involved in a business outside of the hotel, which should "be of interest" to his employers.
Mr Comerford said the issue was with Mr Ryan's dishonesty and breach of contract and had nothing to do with the nature of his other business.
However, Mr Ryan claimed that in one of the meetings with management of the hotel, he was met with a "knee-jerk, homophobic reaction".
Mr Comerford insisted it was Mr Ryan who first referred to the orientation of his clientele at the club and the "pink pound".
He admitted it was not said in Mr Ryan's contract that a breach of contract was a dismissible offence.
He said Mr Ryan was given the opportunity to give up his shares in the club but refused.
The tribunal found Mr Ryan had no previous disciplinary record and noted his evidence that his other business did not interfere with his day-to-day position at the hotel.
The tribunal was satisfied that the dismissal was unfair and that the claimant was unfairly dismissed and concluded that compensation of €25,333 was the "appropriate remedy".