Courts

Friday 25 July 2014

Seriously ill DAA worker 'warned he faced sack'

Mark O'Regan

Published 14/02/2013|04:00

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Stuart McDonnell

A DUBLIN Airport Authority employee who informed his supervisor he was suffering from a leukaemia-related illness was told his sick leave record had better improve or else he would be sacked, a tribunal heard.

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Stuart McDonnell (30, pictured) had been working as a part-time cleaner for the semi-state firm when in January 2009, after eight years' service, he was diagnosed with a blood disorder which doctors told him was most likely leukaemia.

In the same month, he was handed a letter from his supervisor detailing how he had taken 19 sick days in 2008 and warned that they were "going to keep an eye" on him going forward.

"It scared me a bit," he told an Employment Appeals Tribunal in Dublin.

The following day he was called to a meeting with a manager who told him that his 19 days' sick leave was "unacceptable" and also queried "why he was sick so often".

"I told him the doctors don't know for sure yet but at the moment it looks like a leukaemia-type illness," Mr McDonnell told the tribunal.

"As soon as the words 'leukaemia-type illness' had left my mouth he cut me right off and said: 'If your sick leave doesn't improve immediately I'm warning you unofficially you will be fired'.

"As soon as he had heard the significance of my illness he turned around and said that. It was traumatic. . . I felt like a child being given out to."

Speaking on behalf of her son, Teresa McDonnell told the hearing that the DAA "knew full well that Stuart was dealing with a life-threatening illness".

Mr McDonnell said that days later he received another letter from the DAA reiterating its warning.

"I found it to be extremely harsh based on the fact that I had disclosed the significance of my illness and would likely need to take significant sick leave," he said.

Mr McDonnell, who currently works for the Revenue Commissioners, said that he could not afford to lose his job.

In June 2009, he was diagnosed by specialists at King's College Hospital, London, with myelodysplastic syndrome, a malfunction of the bone marrow that can affect production of red and white blood cells.

DAA denies the claims and the constructive dismissal hearing was adjourned until a future date.

Irish Independent

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