herald

Thursday 24 August 2017

Gym manager who was called 'drama queen' by her boss gets €12.5k

WestWood Gym
WestWood Gym

A manager at the biggest gym in Dublin who was upset at being called a "f***ing drama queen" and screamed at by her boss has won a €12,500 award.

This follows the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruling that Sylwia Schonfeld was constructively dismissed by her employer, West Wood Club Clontarf Limited.

The club claims to be Dublin's biggest gym and includes a 50-metre pool, a gym, a children's area and seven indoor tennis courts.

foul

Ms Schonfeld told the tribunal that the general manager constantly screamed at her while gesticulating with her hands in front of her face, as well as raising her voice and using foul language.

She told the EAT hearing, held over three days, that on a number of occasions she approached the manager and asked her to work with her on a "proper level", but the manager told her that she could not work with her as she was a "f***ing drama queen".

Ms Schonfeld worked as childcare manager at the gym, and matters came to a head in January 2013 when a matter arose regarding an employee.

On this occasion when the general manager took out her anger on Ms Schonfeld, she shouted back as she "could not take it any more".

In her evidence, the general manager described her approach as firm and direct.

She said some of the language and tone of emails to Ms Schonfeld were written while she was frustrated and annoyed at the way certain matters were being handled.

She accepted that, in hindsight, some of the language used was inappropriate.

However, she said it was incorrect and indeed not possible for her to shout and scream at Ms Schonfeld.

She said she did not have a dysfunctional relationship with Ms Schonfeld.

In its ruling, the EAT said there is little doubt that the working relationship between Ms Schonfeld and the general manager "was fractious".

"In plain language they rubbed each other up the wrong way and it showed in their interactions," it stated.

The EAT said the actions and behaviour of the manager contributed significantly to the decision of Ms Schonfeld to resign.

offensive

It stated that some of the emails sent by the manager to Ms Schonfeld "were aggressive and offensive. That style of communication was compounded by some of her verbal airings with her. These developments together with a lack of a clear managerial structure led to the claimant's resignation".

The EAT found that Ms Schonfeld's resignation was involuntary and constituted a constructive dismissal. Accordingly, it has ordered the fitness club to pay her €12,500.

hnews@herald.ie

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