Former boxer awarded damages after past employer posted personal information on his health to Facebook
A former professional boxer has been awarded damages in the Circuit Civil Court after his past employer posted personal information about his mental health on Facebook.
Stephen Carroll (26) of Emmett Crescent, Inchicore, Dublin 8, told his barrister Ciarán Murphy that he had informed his then employer Red Corner Promotions in October 2017 that he was unable to perform in a scheduled boxing match due to mental health issues.
Mr Carroll told the court that in accordance with his agreement of contract he had provided proof to Red Corner Promotions as to why he was unable to box but had not expected this personal information to be put up on Facebook.
He said the material concerning his mental health struggles was included in a post by Red Corner Promotions in October 2017 explaining why he would not be fighting in his arranged match. He had been devastated when he had seen the post and felt people would see his mental issues as a form of weakness.
Mr Carroll sued On The Ropes Limited, trading as Red Corner Promotions, Ace Enterprise Centre, Bawnogue Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22. He claimed the company had stated on Facebook: “It is reported that Stephen cannot perform his duties due to mental illness. He has refused to substantiate his claims and honour the terms of the contract.”
He said he had been unable to return to professional boxing since this incident occurred and believed people looked at him with sympathy now. They were always asking him how he was doing.
Carroll told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that his life and career had been deeply impacted by the social media post. He said boxing used to be his “get-away” but he could no longer bring himself to return to the ring or to the sport in any capacity.
Mr Murphy told the court that the statements used in the Facebook post were defamatory and a breach of his client’s data protection rights. He said his client had gone to his employer in confidence and that they had no right to publish the information.
Judge Groarke heard that liability had been conceded and that the court was being asked to assess Mr Carroll’s damages. He had claimed €75,000 damages for defamation and breach of the data protection legislation.
The judge said he believed Mr Carroll’s life had been impacted by the incident, and for that reason he would award him damages of €17,500 and costs.
He said that the defendants were obviously frustrated but this had not given them a right to publish the information on Facebook and by doing so they had undermined their professional obligation to their employee.
Speaking after the trial Mr Carroll said he was “very satisfied” with the outcome.