herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Bank women who sent porn emails awarded €66k for unfair sacking

TWO female bank workers fired for circulating emails described as "extreme and revolting porn" have won their cases of unfair dismissal.

Sarah Murray (25), from Ballybrack, and Sarah Rooney (25), from Glasthule, will get compensation of almost ¤30,000 and ¤36,000 respectively from ICS Building Society, a division of Bank of Ireland. The women were sacked in September 2009 for circulating inappropriate emails.

They were part of a group of 10 who were disciplined after managers found they had breached company guidelines.

The issue came to light in January 2009 after an employee reported she had received a threatening and abusive email.

When management went to look at its email traffic they discovered "wholly inappropriate and distasteful" material was being circulated by staff.

Ms Murray, Ms Rooney and three others were dismissed while another five were disciplined with a final warning and a week's unpaid leave.

Ms Murray and Ms Rooney took their cases to the employment appeals tribunal claiming they were unfairly dismissed, and the tribunal has now ruled that Ms Murray be awarded nearly €30,000 and Ms Rooney more than €36,000.



HUMOROUS

The case centred on emails found by the company to be indecent, obscene and pornographic. The content was deemed highly inappropriate and unacceptable by the bank.

Some of the emails showed a young boy urinating against a wall, and a toddler standing beside a topless woman on the beach.

Ms Rooney said she was "devastated" when she found out her conduct warranted dismissal. "The emails were described as indecent, obscene and pornographic. Those words don't suit my character. I didn't view them in a vile way. I never thought I did anything wrong because everyone was doing it," she said.

The mother of one said forwarding the emails was a split- second thing and that she found them humorous at the time.

She said that a culture of passing around the emails existed in the office and there was at least 60 others who forwarded the same and similar emails.

Ms Murray became visibly upset as she told the tribunal she did not believe she had done anything wrong.

The tribunal found that the investigation by ICS was flawed.

It ruled the company was in error in examining a small sample of emails compared to the number that existed.

And the decision to exclude from the investigation those who had deleted inappropriate emails was restrictive because the senders were not probed.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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