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Pub group boss told to pay €104k to ex for unfairly sacking her

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The businessman owns pubs, hotels and restaurants

The businessman owns pubs, hotels and restaurants

The businessman owns pubs, hotels and restaurants

The owner of a Dublin-based restaurant, pub and hotel group has been ordered to pay €104,000 to an ex-girlfriend for her unfair dismissal from the business.

The two first met 31 years ago and were in a relationship for 10 years.

After their relationship ended, the two remained best friends and the company boss is the godfather of the woman's only daughter.

The woman started working at the business 26 years ago and it has grown from a small bar to a large business made up of bars, a hotel and spas, apartments and restaurants.

For the first 10 years, the two ran the business together and at the time of her unfair dismissal, the complainant was employed as operations director.

In her hard-hitting ruling, WRC adjudication officer Niamh O'Carroll Kelly found that the business owner "took advantage of his personal relationship with the complainant in an attempt to force her out of the company so as to ensure minimal financial impact on the company".

Ms O'Carroll Kelly stated that the company owner "went so far as to use his relationship with the complainant's daughter to force her to accept a wholly inadequate package".

"I am satisfied she was subjected to a prolonged campaign of verbal abuse, stonewalling, bullying, intimidation, and emotional manipulation, all of which were at the very serious end of the spectrum," she said.

The woman "was totally blameless in relation to her dismissal".

Ms O'Carroll Kelly ordered the company to pay the woman two years' salary after hearing uncontested evidence from the complainant.

Died

The woman told how she met with the business owner where he put forward an exit package.

The woman told the WRC that the man asked her "how many best friends do you have?"

She said that he knew that her best friend, who had worked for him, died the previous year.

She stated that he then said, "I am your best friend now and if you take the redundancy, it will remain that way and I will remain in your daughter's life".

She said he told her: "I got advice on the matter. I am willing to, and capable of, taking the hit of two years of your salary.

"You don't have anything, lawyers are very expensive and I will drag this out for over a year."

She said he then said, "worst case scenario for me is two years and I am willing to take the hit. I am going to fire you tomorrow and you won't be working out your notice. Give me your phone and your car keys".

They met the following day when the owner gave her a termination letter which said that she had been terminated because she lacked capacity.

The problems in the business relationship between the two started in March 2018 arising from a new business that was facing public objections and had gone over budget.

The company didn't contest the former operations director's claim for unfair dismissal but did claim that she failed to mitigate her loss and she was cross-examined on this by solicitors for the company owner at the WRC hearing.

However, Ms O'Carroll Kelly stated that there was no action or omission on the part of the complainant that contributed to her financial loss.