Wednesday 16 October 2019

Former employee at 5-star Adare Manor sues over dismissal

5/3/2019 Ger Finnin from Patrickswell, Co. Limerick, pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of his High Court action for damages..Pic: Collins Courts
5/3/2019 Ger Finnin from Patrickswell, Co. Limerick, pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of his High Court action for damages..Pic: Collins Courts

Aodhan O'Faolain

A former senior employee at the five-star Adare Manor claims he was fired from his job for making protected disclosures about various issues at the Co Limerick hotel and golf resort.

Ger Finnin, from Patrickswell Co Limerick, has sued Tizzard Holding's Unlimited, trading as Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort which was bought and revamped by businessman JP McManus in 2015, over the termination of his employment for alleged 'gross misconduct' in early 2018.

He was the resort's director of engineering and facilities and was paid €65,000 plus benefits per year

It was claimed he was dismissed following an alleged incident on Christmas Eve 2017. Mr Finnin was observed taking a box of beer and a box of cider from a storeroom at the resort.

He put them in his car and eventually left them in another building on the 840-acre Adare Manor estate, and returned them on December 27, it is claimed. 

A few days later Mr Finnin, who says he was not guilty of any misconduct, was the subject of an internal investigation and disciplinary process.

Following an internal hearing before senior staff at Adare Manor, in January 2018 he was dismissed after being found guilty of  gross or serious misconduct.

That decision was upheld on appeal. 

Mr Finnin claims those processes were fundamentally flawed, unfair and predetermined.  He now seeks damages, including aggravated damages, for what he claims is a breach of contract by Adare Manor.

He seeks various declarations including that his dismissal on Janurary 19, 2018 breached natural and constitutional justice.  

The claims are denied. The company says there was gross misconduct and it was lawfully entitled to terminate his employment.

It also says it provided him with a fair investigation and disciplinary process.

It denies he is being penalised for making the alleged protective disclosures. 

Opening the case, his counsel Anthony Kerr said Mr Finnin was responsible for security, management of all maintenance on the estate, health and safety for all aspects of the resort, the estate's IT infrastructures and environmental compliance.

Counsel said his client believes he was dismissed because of disclosures he made to managers at Adare Manor about "regulatory issues" including lax security, no procedures being in place for dangerous tasks and non-compliance with Health and Safety requirements for building sites.

He also made protected disclosures about tree felling without a licence and the improper storage of chemicals and pesticides. 

Counsel said he was dismissed without having been given a proper chance to answer the allegation against him and was denied the right to cross-examine key witnesses.

Materials including CCTV and relevant emails were also withheld from his client during that process, and the sanction was grossly disproportionate, counsel said.

Following the dismissal, his health suffered and he had a heart attack.

Counsel said Mr Finnin's reputation has also suffered as a result of his dismissal.

Since his employment was terminated Mr Finnin, who has since taken up a job elsewhere, was the subject of several false rumours coming from people working at the resort.

The case, before Mr Justice Senan Allen, continues.

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