US worker let go by Enterprise Ireland sues over 'Irish bias'
Published 27/08/2013 | 04:49
A FORMER senior Enterprise Ireland employee is suing the agency in the United States, claiming it discriminates against American citizens.
Sharon Claffey Kaliouby worked with the agency, which supports and invests in Irish businesses, in its Boston office from 2006 until early 2012 as senior vice-president of learning solutions.
She was initially employed on a three-year contract which was extended by a further three years.
Ms Kaliouby claims that she broached the idea of securing a full-time job with the agency early last year, when her second contract term expired.
"Despite her request for permanent employment, upon the expiration of the second three-year contract in January 2012, Enterprise Ireland terminated Ms Kaliouby's employment," she claims in a complaint filed with a court in Massachusetts.
"This was consistent with its practice of terminating United States nationals after three, or at most six years."
Ms Kaliouby also claims that Enterprise Ireland has a "history and practice" of treating so-called "local hires" differently, based on whether or not they are American or Irish citizens.
"Enterprise Ireland offers Irish citizens working in America opportunities for permanent employment and, at times, relocation to Ireland or elsewhere,while refusing the same opportunities to its American employees," she alleges.
She also insists she consistently satisfied or exceeded all her performance expectations and received positive performance reviews from the agency.
A spokesman for Enterprise Ireland declined to comment.
Ms Kaliouby also claims that during her employment, Enterprise Ireland failed to deduct appropriate payroll taxes from her pay, including social security, Medicare, federal income tax and Massachusetts state income tax.
The agency also failed to pay its share of those social security and Medicare taxes, she says.
"Due to Enterprise Ireland's failure to withhold, Ms Kaliouby incurred significant costs associated with hiring tax preparers to assist her with filing her tax returns and paying taxes," the complaint against the agency claims.
Ms Kaliouby also maintains that she ultimately paid Enterprise Ireland's share of taxes that it should have contributed to her social security and Medicare.
Because the agency allegedly failed to pay social security, Ms Kaliouby says she was denied unemployment benefit when her employment with Enterprise Ireland ended.
She has sought a jury trial and compensation and punitive damages as a result of the alleged discrimination and alleged failure to pay taxes.
She has since gone on to secure a job with an enterprise software solutions provider as a vice-president.