Monday 19 February 2018

HSE must re-hire sacked doctor and pay €100,000

Ray Managh

A PAEDIATRICIAN unlawfully sacked by the HSE because of the Government's moratorium on recruitment is to return to her job and receive back pay and a pension package of around €100,000.

Dr Molly Sengupta had worked as a paediatrician with the HSE in the north-west Dublin region.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane yesterday upheld an earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) award to Dr Sengupta.

Barrister Marguerite Bolger told the Circuit Civil Court that Dr Sengupta had been employed in March 2007 on a temporary contract to fill a vacant post pending the permanent filling of the position.

In December 2007, the Government had introduced a moratorium on recruitment to the public service. It directed that vacant positions be filled only through the reallocation or reorganisation of work or staff as necessary.

Ms Bolger said that when a permanent senior medical officer returned two years early from training leave in July 2009, the HSE dismissed Dr Sengupta to avoid breaching the moratorium.

She told the court that the HSE, after opposing Dr Sengupta's successful claim for unfair dismissal at the EAT, now conceded she had been unfairly dismissed.

But it was appealing the tribunal's direction to re-engage her.

Dr Sengupta, of Allendale Lawn, Clonsilla, Dublin, told the court she was shocked when told she was being dismissed.

Area manager Anne O'Connor told the court she had no option but to dismiss Dr Sengupta. Under the moratorium if she was directed to re-engage Dr Sengupta she would have to cut staff elsewhere.

Dr Maeve Diver, who was Dr Sengupta's line manager, said they were continually understaffed in the area of community and child care.

Dr Evan Murphy, who was Dr Sengupta's area manager, said she had brought critical expertise to her area. Both said they would welcome her return.

Judge Linnane said she agreed with the EAT's decision to direct Dr Sengupta's re-engagement with full salary and pension rights dating back to September 2010 -- a date which took into account work Dr Sengupta had done since since she was dismissed by the HSE.

The judge, awarding costs against the HSE, said it could not rely on the moratorium on recruitment to justify Dr Sengupta's dismissal.

Re-engagement was the appropriate form of redress as Dr Sengupta was considered by both sides to be an exemplary employee and unlike many other unfair dismissal cases there had been no breakdown in trust and confidence.

Dr Sengupta's solicitors, Denis McSweeney and Co, estimated the salary and retrospective pension package for their client now to be in the region of €100,000.

Irish Independent

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