herald

Monday 11 December 2017

An Post sorter felt 'terrified' of return to work, court told

Joanne Rundle
Joanne Rundle

A MAIL sorter claims she was subjected to a campaign of bullying and harassment which left her "terrified" about returning to her job in a Dublin sorting centre, the High Court heard.

Joanne Rundle (38), Shanliss Avenue, Santry, Dublin, is suing An Post over what she claims was bullying between 2005 and 2006 at the Dublin Mail Centre (DMC) in Clondalkin, Dublin, where 850 people are employed.

She claims she was subjected to a "relentless campaign of mean and spiteful behaviour" which caused her severe anxiety which left her out of work for lengthy periods and left her "terrified" about returning to the DMC.

An Post denies her claims.

She is now working, still with An Post, in the GPO in Dublin in what she says are happy circumstances.

Ms Rundle told the judge her complaints concerned three since-retired supervisors at the DMC, Kevin Doherty, Larry Shields and Niall Withers.

She claimed that in mid-2005 she was subjected to bullying after she made a complaint to her trade union representative that she was being constantly watched by Mr Doherty.

Between 2005 and March 2006, she said, she was treated differently from her colleagues by Mr Doherty and by Mr Shields.

She said Mr Shields would, on a constant basis, ensure she was not working in the same area as her friends and he frequently shouted at her in front of colleagues and addressed her in an aggressive and hostile tone.

On one occasion, Mr Shields came very close to her and started shouting in her face, "You do what I tell you to do".

Breaks

Constant supervision, including being told she could not leave her work station other than for breaks or to go home, led her to feeling stressed and on March 9, 2006, she went on certified sick leave.

She made efforts to get back to work between May and October that year on the basis that she would not have to work with Mr Doherty or Mr Shields, but there was no agreement to this.

By February 2007 she exceeded sick leave limits and went on the pension rate of pay.

In August 2008, with the help of the company's occupational support services, she was relocated as a sorter in the Dublin Airport Mail Centre.

Everything went well there until March 2010 when she learned Mr Withers was to be transferred from the DMC to the airport under a promotion.

She went out sick again and it was not until January 2014 that she returned to work, this time in the GPO.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns urged the parties to consider whether "a prolongation of this case" could be avoided.

hnews@herald.ie

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