Thursday 21 November 2019

Mansfield worker gets €75,000 for unfair dismissal

Edel O'Connell

A GREENKEEPER who lost his job at an exclusive golf course owned by indebted property developer Jim Mansfield has been awarded €75,000 for unfair dismissal.

Damon Kirk (43) of Abbeyfield, Ballitore, Co Kildare, worked at Citywest and Palmerstown golf clubs for 11 years before he was dismissed without warning.

This week he was awarded a €75,000 payout by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

However, as Bridford Properties, which owned Palmerstown Golf Course, is in receivership, and NAMA has secured summary judgment for more than €74m against hotelier Mr Mansfield, the chances of Mr Kirk receiving the award are slim.

Mr Kirk, who moved to Istanbul after being out of work for 18 months, says his dismissal came as a "bolt out of the blue" after what he claims was a personal attack on him by Jim Mansfield and another manager, Seamus Sutcliffe.

He began work as a greenkeeper at Citywest Golf Course before being transferred to Palmerstown golf course in Co Kildare in 2005.

The tribunal was told Mr Kirk enjoyed a good working relationship with other staff during those years. However, when a new accountant, Seamus Sutcliffe, was appointed, some "tensions" arose.

Mr Kirk was asked for his input into making the golf course profitable and responded by submitting a budget. The course catered for corporate play and there was no membership, and it was also not overly busy, the tribunal heard. On May 11, 2010, Mr Kirk was told he was being temporarily laid off. He was informed this was "for financial reasons due to restructuring".

He said this news came as "a bolt out of the blue".

There was no prior indication that redundancies were imminent nor had he any prior indication that the company was having financial difficulties. Mr Kirk believed there was a personal attack on him by Mr Sutcliffe and Mr Mansfield to "get rid of him". On the same day he was handed a form to sign for his temporary dismissal, Citywest Hotel and golf club went into receivership.

Mr Kirk said he was left in "limbo" for weeks and could not get an answer as to whether his dismissal was permanent. He refused to sign the RP9 (temporary layoff) form and seek his statutory redundancy, as he felt he deserved more after 11 years' service.

It transpired two new employees were employed approximately two weeks after he was temporarily laid off.

Arrears

He wrote to the company secretary in September 2010 to say he had not been paid his gross weekly wage since the previous May and arrears of wages were owing to him, together with a bonus payment. Mr Kirk never received a response.

Mr Kirk, who had secured a mortgage a year and a half previously, spent 18 months out of work before moving to Turkey, where he is now employed as a superintendent at the Istanbul Golf Club.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Kirk said he was unsure how much, if any, of the settlement he would receive, as the company was now in receivership.

Irish Independent

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