Saturday 26 May 2018

I was told I'd be sacked if I stayed on sick leave – cleaner

Sam Griffin

A FORMER cleaner at Dublin airport who required surgery, blood transfusions and specialist help in Britain to treat a leukaemia-like illness says he was told by his boss he would be sacked if he continued to miss work, an employment tribunal has heard.

Stuart McDonnell (30) has taken a case against the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for constructive dismissal.

He says he was forced to resign as a weekend cleaner in the airport because management had shown no empathy towards him after he disclosed the seriousness of his illness at a meeting in February 2009.

He went on sick leave soon after that meeting until his resignation on April 6, 2011. At that point he returned his work badges to the airport, which he had cut up.

At the time Mr McDonnell, from north Co Dublin, said the DAA was aware he was suffering from a leukaemia-like illness. He has since been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, which affects bone marrow.

After receiving what he believed was a written warning to improve his attendance at his part-time job, he then began a complaints procedure and said the subsequent investigation report drawn up had a number of inaccuracies.

The report stated the DAA had shown empathy towards Mr McDonnell.

However, he said yesterday there had been no change in demeanour following disclosure of his illness and said it was a case of "get your shit together or we're going to fire you".

Mr McDonnell, who worked and continues to work with the Revenue Commissioners five days a week, said he had only missed six days in the previous seven years before contracting the illness.

APPEAL

He said he attempted to appeal the investigation's findings but was told he could only be accompanied at further meetings with a union representative or staff member of the DAA.

In return-to-work meetings in 2011, Mr McDonnell said he was met with a very hostile and aggressive response by his manager, Brian Lynch, and said he was given no choice but to resign when management failed to assure him he would return to a safe working environment.

In cross-examination by counsel for the defence Anne Byrne, Mr McDonnell agreed 19 days' absence could be considered high for somebody who only worked weekends.

She said DAA management empathised with his condition and did not threaten to sack him. She said the letter Mr McDonnell received was not a written warning.

The case concludes today.

Irish Independent

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