Monday 11 December 2017

Rail worker accused of sexual harassment suffered post traumatic stress disorder, court told

AN Irish Rail worker claims he suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the way a company investigation in to an allegation of sexual harassment was conducted.

Gary Sheehan of An Lantain, Cul Ard, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork has brought an action for damages against his employer of 14 years, Irish Rail, claiming he was the subject of alleged bullying, harassment and intimidation after he was informed an allegation of sexual harassment had been made against him by a female colleague.

Mr Sheehan who works as a train host out of Kent Station, Cork on the Dublin to Cork line told the High Court yesterday he cried himself to sleep and went through "four months of hell" after the allegation was made by a cleaner on the train in 2008.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told the Irish Rail investigation in to the alleged sexual harassment recommended no further action be taken and Mr Sheehan, while cleared was told to modify his behaviour and flirting was unacceptable.

In his evidence Mr Sheehan told the court after the allegation was made he went through four months of hell as the investigation continued.

"I was called rapist in work. It was written on the wall about me," he said.

He told the Judge he felt let down by Irish Rail who have " all the procedures in booklets".

Opening the case Mr Sheehan's Counsel Gerry Healy said his client when informed of the sexual harassment allegation in June 2008 but was not given a copy of it and was not given CCTV footage from the train where it was alleged to have occurred. Mr Sheehan denied the claim and said there had been flirting.

Counsel said Mr Sheehan was in appalling distress and it is contended he suffered post traumatic stress disorder which has now been brought under control. Counsel said it all stemmed from the "tremendous violation of his rights" in the way the investigation was conducted.

Counsel said his client was given no information when told of the allegation was also refused information and not given CCTV footage.

There was, Counsel said an unnecessary length to the process of investigation which took four months.

"He says since all this happened he has been a bag of nerves. It has had appalling implications for his mental health," Counsel said.

Mr Sheehan in his proceedings has claimed Irish Rail failed to put in place any effective adequate procedure to deal with the alleged harassment, bullying and intimidation and allegedly permitting Mr Sheehan to be subjected to a hostile and oppressive working atmosphere. Irish Rail has denied all the claims.

Counsel said Irish Rail has a policy in relation to bullying and sexual harassment and if it had been deployed with due regard to Mr Sheehan's rights he would not be making a complaint.

In his evidence, Mr Sheehan said he was checking passengers on board the first class carriage on the Cork Dublin train at Cork station on June 27 2008 when he was told to go to the District Manager 's office.

He said Mr Hilary Twomey told him to sit down and asked him about the train journey the previous day. He said an allegation had been made by a cleaner.

"I said no way. He said he had a statement and when I asked to have a look he said no. I said I was entitled to see what I was being accused of and he said no again."

He said he was told to write out a statement and he said he did. In the statement he said he had been flirting with the woman but nothing else happened. He said he had been sitting down next to the cleaner and she put her legs across him . "We were flirting and chatting", the statement said.

There was flirting again at the door when the train stopped at a station. He said the girl had previously given him her number.

The case continues on Tuesday.

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