Tuesday 28 February 2017

Solicitor Donal Taaffe admits unfairly sacking sister from his practice

Ray Managh

Deirdre Taaffe, of Millers Wood, Bray, Co Wicklow pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after she appeared before the Circuit Civil Court.Pic: Courts Collins
Deirdre Taaffe, of Millers Wood, Bray, Co Wicklow pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after she appeared before the Circuit Civil Court.Pic: Courts Collins

Well-known Dublin solicitor Donal Taaffe, who conceded in the Circuit Civil Court today that he had unfairly sacked his sister from his legal practice, has settled her claim against him for unfair dismissal.

Barrister Mary Paula Guinness told the court that two years ago the Employment Appeals Tribunal had awarded Deirdre Taaffe, of Millers Wood, Bray, Co Wicklow, just under €25,000 compensation which her brother had appealed.

Ms Guinness, who appeared with solicitor Rory McGarry for Ms Taaffe, said Mr Taaffe had conceded at the EAT that he had unfairly dismissed his sister but was appealing the award on the basis she had allegedly  contributed to her dismissal.

Andrew Whelan, counsel for Mr Taaffe, told Judge Alison Lindsay that the unfairness of Ms Taaffe’s dismissal was not being challenged, only the award of €24,736 on the basis she had allegedly contributed to her own dismissal.

Taaffe, of Donal Taaffe & Co, Malthouse Square Smithfield Village, Dublin, told the court that in 2008 his company had experienced a massive downturn in business which coincided with his losing a lot of money in investments.

He had warned staff that redundancies would be inevitable and he had asked Deirdre, his older sister, to come in and give him a hand when it suited her, paying her out of his own pocket.  She had gone on the books in the Spring of 2009.

Mr Taaffe said holiday entitlement in the office had gone out of kilter completely through his own fault because he had not been on top of his game at the time.  A dispute over holidays had led to him dismissing Deirdre at the end of 2011.

He told Mr Whelan it was an extremely upsetting time and he had suspended her for a month, writing to her in October 2011 dismissing her.

“I told her in a letter that she was my sister and I loved her and that in time we might realise a parting of the ways was the best way to go,” he said.

He said he was not disputing the fact that fair procedures had not been followed by him in dealing with Deirdre’s dismissal.

When Judge Lindsay asked if any settlement talks had been explored, Ms Guinness said no-one would be in court unless they had to.  Both parties accepted the court’s offer of a brief adjournment for negotiations.

Shortly afterwards Ms Guinness said the parties had reached agreement and the matter had been settled on the basis that Mr Taaffe agreed to the court granting a decree for €20,000 being made in favour of his sister, the payment of which would be “on agreed terms.”

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