A FORMER general manager of one of Ireland's most exclusive leisure centres was yesterday awarded €300,000 for unfair dismissal.
It is one of the biggest awards ever made by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).
Paul Taylor (51) was awarded the money after he challenged a decision by the British-owned David Lloyd Leisure Ltd to fire him from his position at the Riverview Racquet and Fitness Club in Clonskeagh, Dublin.
The tribunal found the leisure firm had tried to "belittle" and "undermine" the highly successful senior manager right up to the end of the EAT hearing.
It awarded him €280,000 compensation under the Unfair Dismissals Acts after he was unable to find work since his dismissal.
He was also awarded an additional €19,038, or six weeks' pay, under employment law.
This would indicate that Mr Taylor was on a gross salary of more than €150,000 a year.
The leisure firm has six weeks to appeal the award.
The average unfair dismissals award was just over €16,000 in 2010, and just 44 people were awarded more than €25,000.
Mr Taylor had "a deserved reputation" for turning around under-performing clubs before he took over at the Dublin club in 2003, the EAT decision found.
But Mr Taylor's problems began when he wrote to the group's CEO to express disquiet over the new management style after his line manager was changed in October 2008.
An anonymous "poisonous pen letter" was later sent to the new manager, which resulted in Mr Taylor being investigated over allegations including misuse of the company credit card, employing the services of a company owned by the sales manager and inappropriate commitment of company expenditure on a trip to Spain
The tribunal chair questioned the wisdom of the firm acting on foot of such a letter "designed to seriously damage the reputation of one of its own employees" and from "an unknown entity whose motive can only be guessed at".
Mr Taylor's new manager had said that the allegations, if proven, would lead to instant dismissal. However, the tribunal found they would not warrant his "immediate dismissal".
"The sanction imposed well outweighed any wrongdoing committed," the chair found, and pointed out there was no intention in any way to defraud the company.
"He had been meeting targets and demonstrating a successful management style and (was) being left to it."
The chair pointed out it was "significant" no one could find a contract of employment for Mr Taylor to show the tribunal.
Mr Taylor did not respond to calls last night.