Ex-store manager awarded €84,000 for dismissal
A FORMER manager of a hardware store who was made redundant while recovering from bypass surgery has received €84,000 for being unfairly dismissed.
PJ Maxwell, of Rathnaleen, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, was awarded the maximum payment by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).
He was employed as general manager of Doherty Hardware on Rosemary Square, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, from April 2000.
Mr Maxwell's employment was uneventful until he suffered a heart attack, which led to bypass surgery, on December 27, 2005.
He was made redundant the following year.
Mr Maxwell continued to be paid while on sick leave and in his absence his duties were shared between the two brothers who owned the partnership, Seamus and Michael Doherty, and other members of their families.
During Mr Maxwell's absence there was informal contact between the two parties and he attended a birthday party for one of the brothers in March 2006.
Mr Maxwell claimed he scotched rumours that he was not returning to work at the function and was encouraged by family members of the respondent to take his time coming back to work.
Doherty Hardware's accountant, who had been involved in his recruitment, met Mr Maxwell on April 24 and May 23, 2006. They discussed a part-time return to work, although the exact date of this discussion was disputed.
On May 31, 2006, Mr Maxwell received a letter signed by both Doherty brothers, which stressed the importance of a full-time commitment to role.
The letter also stated that the position of general manager was to be made redundant from July 14, 2006.
The tribunal found that the respondent had never enquired in a formal sense about Mr Maxwell's heath during his recovery from surgery.
The tribunal also ruled that the decision to declare the position redundant was not on "impersonal" grounds, therefore deeming it unfair.
Mr Maxwell would not comment on the case when contacted by the Irish Independent.
The EAT also heard other cases whereby the claimants received payments of €60,000 and €30,000 respectively.
Michael O'Farrell, Rivercourt, Newbridge, Co Kildare, was awarded €60,000 by the tribunal after taking an unfair dismissal case against Ernst & Young Chartered Accountants, Harcourt Centre, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2.
Gerry Dolan from Lowtown, Ballydangan, Athlone, Co Roscommon took an unfair dismissal case against Ulster Bank and was awarded €30,000.