Thursday, November 17, 2022

Gordon Deegan

The Brazilian embassy in Dublin has been ordered to pay a former “highly regarded and well-liked” housekeeper, who worked for a number of Brazilian ambassadors, €21,793 for her unfair dismissal.

In a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Roger McGrath said that he could find nothing that has been put forward by the embassy that justified the dismissal of Alessandra Quinn in July 2021.

Mr McGrath also concluded that there “was a near absence of procedures and therefore I find the dismissal to have been procedurally unfair also”.

Taking into account  that Ms Quinn found alternative work seven months after her dismissal, he said the award is the equivalent to seven months’ pay.

Mr McGrath said it was an unfortunate situation as it is clear Ms Quinn was a highly respected employee, and the embassy did not want to see her leave her post.


Ms Quinn stated that she felt aggrieved at the way her employment ended though she does not blame any one individual.

Ms Quinn commenced employment as a housekeeper with the Embassy of Brazil here in November 2001 and she was unfairly dismissed on July 27th 2021.

Ms Quinn – represented in the case by solicitor Gerard I. Lambe – had moved to Ireland in 2001 as part of the household of the Ambassador with whom she worked for from Brazil.

In early November 2020, Ms Quinn was informed that as a result of the termination of the lease agreement the embassy had for the existing property due to administrative and budgetary constraints, it would probably be moving to a smaller premises and the provision of accommodation for her in a mews property would no longer be available to her.

Ms Quinn contended that the loss of such a benefit was very significant and it meant she had to live out, there was a commute time and additional utility and transport expenses.

Ms Quinn sought an increase to her remuneration to compensate for her loss, but contended that no adequate proposal was forthcoming.

Consequently, Ms Quinn was informed by letter of May 5th 2021, that, as she had not accepted the embassy offer to cover the new expenses associated with the commute, her employment was to terminate on July 27th 2021.

Ms Quinn shared the mews house with the Embassy’s cook.

The embassy stated that after some years in Ireland Ms Quinn married an Irish citizen and they took residence in another place. They said that for convenience Ms Quinn kept the possibility to use the mews house for overnight stays during the week.

The embassy – represented by solicitor, Gerald Keane – stated that one of the reasons Ms Quinn kept the room at the mews house was to enable her to take up part-time jobs as housekeeper in nearby houses, after her working hours in the Embassy Residence.

In March 2021, the Embassy moved to another location, to occupy a house that was rented for a price substantially lower than the previous property.

As the new residence did not have enough space to house employees, the embassy proposed to both the Embassy cook and Ms Quinn to update their employment contracts, with the removal of the room clause.

As a result, the cook decided to retire and returned to Brazil.

Commute expenses

The embassy stated it made a good faith proposal to increase Ms Quinn’s salary to cover any new expenses associated with the extra daily commute from her home to the premises of the new Embassy, which was within commuting distance of her home.

The embassy argued that the proposed salary increase was reasonable and corresponded to the maximum admissible under budgetary rules and the salary scheme and policy governing the contracts of local hired staff.

The Embassy also proposed a friendly termination of the contract, with the payment of a lump sum.

The embassy argued that it made all possible efforts to resolve the matter to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

The embassy stated that unfortunately, Ms Quinn did not accept the embassy’s offers and despite ongoing discussions, it was not possible to reach a mutual agreement to update the contract or to terminate the employment contract.

The embassy stated that in the circumstances, unfortunately, it had no alternative but to terminate her employment contract.

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