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Legal assistant faces €20,000 bill after losing appeal

A LEGAL assistant whose allegations of bullying and harassment by her employers were dismissed faces a legal bill of up to €20,000 after losing her appeal against the decision.

Carolyn Lambert, who asked Judge Jacqueline Linnane to overturn the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruling, lost her Circuit Civil Court appeal and was ordered to pay the legal costs of the three-day hearing.

Ms Lambert represented herself during the hearing.

She sued her former employers, Matheson Ormsby Prentice Solicitors (MOPs), of Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin, for compensation for alleged constructive dismissal.

Ms Lambert claimed her refusal to fill in personal details on a VHI questionnaire triggered a negative reaction from her employers and colleagues.

The judge found she failed to discharge the onus of proof of constructive dismissal -- that she had no option but resign.

Barrister Tom Mallon said that MOPs denied any instance of bullying or harassment.

Ms Lambert, formerly of Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, but who now works in Vancouver, British Columbia, told the court she had joined MOPs in 2002.

She said in 2006 she had declined to fill out a VHI flu vaccination form on the basis that any sensitive information on it might be shared with other insurance companies. She claimed this had sparked off a campaign of bullying.

Ms Lambert agreed with the judge that she had taken up a position with another company after submitting her resignation to MOPs in August 2008. She had not taken a case to the EAT until February 2009.

She also agreed she had failed to prove constructive dismissal.

Irish Independent