Gorey Credit Union’s Head of Legal claims he was suspended for making protected disclosure

The Four Courts in Dublin

Gorey Guardian

The Head of Legal at a Co Wexford-based Credit Union has brought a High Court challenge against what he claims is his ongoing suspension from work.

The action has been brought by Donal O’Connor who claims that last November he was put on “administrative leave,” because he has made a complaint about a colleague and a protected disclosure about certain alleged practises at Altura Credit Union in Gorey, Co Wexford.

The 55-year-old, who has worked at the credit union for several years, claims that he has been unlawfully and in breach of his contract of employment been placed on an “open-ended” suspension over allegations that he has breached his employer’s IT policy.

Those allegations are currently the subject of an on-going investigation.

In a sworn statement put before the High Court on Thursday he denies any wrong-doing and says that the allegations were made after he made a protected disclosure about certain matters at the credit union in September 2022.

The protected disclosure and the complaint he has made about another person working at the credit union he claims is “the real reason” why he has been suspended.

He claims that he raised serious concerns he has about operations risks and controls at the credit union.

In particular he fears that the requirement to ensure insurance is in place prior to the release of funds to customers was being disregarded.

He claims that no efforts have been made by the defendant to properly address his concerns.

He also claims that a senior official at the credit union was not following necessary procedures, has been disregarding his concerns and had acted in a aggressive, derogatory and inappropriate manner towards him.

He claims that his health has suffered as a result.

He said that he filed a grievance against that person, but that person has also made a complaint against him.

Last November he claims that the credit union placed him on administrative leave over allegations including that he stored non work emails on his work computer, used non work email for work documents, and participated in in work outside the workplace.

He denies any wrongdoing, and says some of the complaints date back to a period when he was part time with the defendant and any outside any work he did during that period was done with the credit union’s full knowledge.

Following the credit union’s decision to place him on administrative leave his health has suffered, and he required sick leave he claims that he was certified to return to work from the end of April.

Despite this, Mr O’Connor, who is a qualified solicitor, claims that he has not been permitted to return to work and has been effectively suspended by it.

His ongoing suspension, he claims, has damaged his reputation.

As a result, Mr O’Connor, with an address at The Avenue, Gorey, Co Wexford seeks an injunction from the court restraining the defendant from continuing with his exclusion from the workplace, and that his suspension be ended.

He also seeks various declarations from the Court including that his suspension is unlawful, and in breach of his contract of employment.

He further seeks damages from the defendant for emotional suffering.

The matter came before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore on Thursday.

Following an application from Mr O’Connor’s lawyers the judge granted permission, on an ex-parte basis, to serve short notice of the injunction proceeding on the defendant credit union.

The judge adjourned the application to a date later this month.