Saturday 3 December 2016

NUIG rejects claims bullying expert was harassed in his job

Brian McDonald

Published 04/09/2015 | 02:30

A research facility at NUI Galway
A research facility at NUI Galway

An international expert on bullying himself claimed to be a victim of bullying in his job.

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Professor Keith Sullivan has taken a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal over the refusal of NUI Galway to grant him an extension to his employment after he turned 65.

His legal team told the tribunal in Galway that such extensions were "habitually" given to other professors.

But NUIG has insisted that such extensions only apply when a professor reaches 65 during an academic year and cannot be expected to walk away from his teaching duties or a significant research project.

The tribunal heard that Prof Sullivan had applied for a year's extension in August 13 when his 65th birthday fell in October.

Prof Sullivan had applied for the additional year because he had fallen 13 weeks short in the requirement for his entitlement to a State pension.

His union, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, had taken up his case. It alleged that he had suffered loss, injury and damage and had been "bullied and harassed".

It indicated that Prof Sullivan was about to be removed from his office in a "degrading" manner.

NUIG rejected the allegations in a letter of reply.

Duties

Former Registrar Nollaig MacConghail told the tribunal of trying to find out exactly what work Prof Sullivan was doing, as he had not been teaching for some time and was not engaged in any significant research or administrative duties.

"We look at published material (by NUIG researchers) annually, but I had extreme difficulty getting information on what he had done.

"More would have been expected. He was full-time, very well-salaried researcher ... he had several years to supply high- quality research, there were no interruptions. I was particularly frustrated, I had great difficulty contacting Prof Sullivan."

Mr Mac Conghail said that the only contact with Prof Sullivan was by phone. If he was on the campus he would have regularly seen him and would have expected to have been given a breakdown of the work of somebody earning €140,000.

"He was apparently preparing a magnum opus, a very large book, but I could see no evidence of this.

"The reason I was given was that he was afraid of copyright theft - apparently that I would take it myself and run down to Gill and MacMillan.

"But nothing appeared ... It was a very simple ask. I wanted something concrete".

The hearing was adjourned.

Irish Independent

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