A copywriter has gone to the High Court to make sure she can't be fired

Her employer claimed she was taking too many personal calls and emails at work.

By Aodhan O'Faolain

A SENIOR COPYWRITER with a marketing firm has secured a High Court injunction preventing her employer from dismissing her.

The order was secured by Colleen Wassel who was informed last month by her employer Maverick Communications Ltd that she had been dismissed from her job on grounds including poor timekeeping.

Wassel, represented by Marguerite Bolger SC, disputes that claim and argues that under her contract of employment the company is not entitled to treat her in this manner.

At the High Court, Wassel secured a number of orders against her employer including an injunction preventing her purported dismissal.

The company must also pay her salary and benefits as they fall due, cannot appoint anyone else to her position and cannot proceed with any disciplinary action against her other than in a fair and lawful manner.

The injunctions granted by Justice Paul Gilligan were put in place pending the outcome of the full hearing of her dispute with her employers of Caherelly House, Ballina/Killaloe Co Tipperary. The company did not contest the application.

The court was told Maverick had been contacted by Wassel’s lawyers and it has been sent all the relevant documentation concerning the case.

Bolger said Wassel’s solicitor had phoned Maverick shortly before the hearing commenced and was informed by a company official that “we don’t intend to appear”.

Confounded

Justice Gilligan said the attitude displayed by the company had confounded the situation.

As there was no opposition to the application, the judge said he was satisfied to grant Wassel the orders sought.

In addition, the judge said Wassel was also entitled to an order directing the company to pay her legal costs.

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Seeking the orders, Bolger said her client joined the company in April 2016 and had been on a salary of €55,000. Part of her conditions were that she could work from home and the office, counsel said.

There had been no problems and Wassel had completed a six-month probationary period. However in February she was informed she was being dismissed on the basis of poor timekeeping.

Counsel said Wassel contested the decision, which was a breach of the terms of her contract of employment in a letter sent to her employer.

In reply the company said Wassel was being dismissed on grounds of taking too many personal calls and emails at work and “overall trustworthiness” as well as poor timekeeping.

Counsel said these allegations, which are also denied, are very serious and had never been put to her client before that letter was sent. The failure by the company to allow her answer those allegations was a further breach of Wassel’s entitlements, counsel added.

Counsel said her client, a married mother of two, was the sole breadwinner of the family and had been left destitute by the company’s actions.