Wednesday 23 October 2019

Brennan brothers urged to pay ex-hotel boss €90,000

Brothers in business: Francis and John Brennan have operated the luxury hotel for almost 40 years
Brothers in business: Francis and John Brennan have operated the luxury hotel for almost 40 years

Ralph Riegel

The Labour Court has recommended that the luxury Park Hotel operated by the Brennan brothers pay a former manager €90,000 in settlement of an unfair dismissal claim.

The recommendation, published on the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) website, is not binding on the hotel.

And a spokesperson for the Kerry hotel last night disputed elements of the case.

The Labour Court recommendation is now being studied by Gore and Grimes, solicitors for Beechside Company, which trades as the Park Hotel in Kenmare.

A Park Hotel spokesperson said there had never before been such an employment finding in the nearly 40 years it had been operated by brothers John and Francis Brennan.

"In that time, roughly 1,100 people have worked at the hotel - some of those who joined almost 40 years ago are still working there," they said.

"People arrive at the hotel as employees and leave as friends."

The hotel celebrated 120 years in business last year and, the spokesperson noted, the Brennan brothers were overwhelmed by cards, messages of support and even flowers from former and current employees.

The five-star Park Hotel ranks as one of Ireland's most successful tourism operations and its profile was such that it helped launch the successful TV career of Francis Brennan.

The Labour Court recommendation came after the hotel manager initiated an action on August 13 last after he was not retained in his senior position.

After 11 weeks, and within a probationary period, it was decided the position was not working out as anticipated and the manager was not retained.

However, the manager maintained during a September 28 Labour Court hearing that he was specifically head-hunted for the role of Park Hotel general manager.

He also said he agreed to move from Dublin to Kerry for the role.

The manager maintained that, without warning, he was dismissed from his position on April 27. He had said he moved to the hotel on the basis of a 36-month contract.

Solicitors for the hotel pointed out that the contract of employment unequivocally provided that either party could terminate the contract by giving written notice during the probationary period.

However, the Labour Court took issue with the circumstances in which the manager had his employment terminated.

"The Court is of the view that the procedures adopted in the termination of the claimant's employment were seriously flawed. He was not afforded fair procedures in accordance with the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures," it found.

The manager insisted his reputation was damaged by what happened.

In recommending a payment of €90,000 to the former manager in full settlement of his claim, the Labour Court noted that he was not provided with details of any performance issues.

There was also no warning that his employment was in jeopardy, no dismissal reasons were given and he was not afforded an opportunity to reply.

Irish Independent

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