Saturday 24 March 2018

Limerick Hospital cleaner claims she was forced out of work by verbal abuse, court hears

The plaintiff: hospital worker, Geraldine McCarthy, Limerick, leaving court today on the opening day of her personal injuries action for damages.
(Pic: CourtPix)
The plaintiff: hospital worker, Geraldine McCarthy, Limerick, leaving court today on the opening day of her personal injuries action for damages. (Pic: CourtPix)

Tim Healy

A HOSPITAL cleaning supervisor claims she was forced out of her job by a failure of her bosses to deal with a number of incidents in which she was allegedly verbally abused by her fellow employees.

Geraldine McCarthy (51) claims the incidents at Limerick Hospital in Dooradoyle were not addressed, including one in which the husband of one employee physically attacked her.

She is suing her former employers ISS Ltd, trading as ISS Facility Services, and the HSE, arising out of what she says was her forced redundancy from her employment in May 2011.  The defendants deny they are liable.

Mrs McCarthy, a separated mother-of-six from Limerick, claims she was unable to continue in the job because of an alleged failure to take action against members of staff who accosted and verbally abused her on five different occasions between May 2009 and July 2010.

Gerald Tynan SC. for Mrs McCarthy, said she had worked in the hospital for 20 years as a cleaner before being promoted to the position of

supervisor in May 2009.   She loved the job and had an excellent work

record, counsel said.

On May 28, 2009, a female cleaner and her husband approached her about a complaint which had been made by a nursing sister about her (the

cleaner's) work believing it was she (McCarthy) who had made the complaint.

The cleaner shouted abuse at her while her husband pushed Mrs McCarthy up against a wall, counsel said. When she tried to take out her phone to call for help, the cleaner stopped her.

On January 15, 2010, there was another incident in which an attendant became aggressive towards her after she asked him to help her take out a refuse bag because of industrial action by porters in the hospital.

On June 30, 2010, a male cleaner shouted and roared at her when she told him he would not be able to go into the intensive care unit because of an infection.

In July 2010, there were two further incidents when two other employees verbally abused her as she tried to carry out her job as a supervisors, counsel said.

Nothing was done by the defendants to deal with these incidents and

Mrs McCarthy felt she was unable to go on, counsel said.   "I don't

wish to over-dramatise the situation but she was a broken woman and still is", counsel said.

A number of medical professionals had found that despite treatment and medication, her future employment outlook is pessimistic, counsel said.  Along with loss of past earnings, there was a significant claim for loss of future earnings as she was a relatively young woman.

Counsel also said she was particularly upset when a senior supervisor with her employers, during an interview before she left the job, asked her was she related to "the McCarthys of Limerick".  She was not and it was a clear inference that she was connected to people with a criminal reputation, counsel said.

The hearing continues before Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

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