High Court Reporters
The head of legal at a Co Wexford credit union has brought a High Court challenge against what he claims is his ongoing suspension from work.
The action has been brought by Donal O’Connor, who claims that last November he was put on “administrative leave” because he made a complaint and a protected disclosure about certain alleged practices at Altura Credit Union in Gorey, Co Wexford.
The 55-year-old, who has worked at the credit union for several years, claims he has been unlawfully and in breach of his contract of employment been placed on an “open-ended” suspension over allegations he breached his employer’s IT policy.
Those allegations are currently the subject of an ongoing investigation.
In a sworn statement put before the High Court on Thursday, Mr O’Connor denies any wrongdoing and says the allegations were made after he made a protected disclosure about certain matters at the credit union in September 2022.
The protected disclosure and the complaint he made are “the real reason” why he has been suspended, Mr O’Connor claims.
He claims he raised serious concerns about operations risks and controls at the credit union.
In particular, he fears the requirement to ensure insurance is in place prior to the release of funds to customers was allegedly being disregarded.
He claims that no efforts were made by the defendant to properly address his concerns, and further claims his health has suffered as a result.
Last November he claims the credit union placed him on administrative leave over allegations including that he stored non-work emails on his work computer, used non-work email for work documents, and participated in work outside the workplace.
He denies any wrongdoing, and says some of the complaints date back to a period when he was part-time with the defendant and any outside work he did during that period was done with the credit union’s full knowledge.
Following the credit union’s decision to place him on administrative leave, Mr O’Connor’s health has allegedly suffered, and he required sick leave that he was certified to return to work from the end of April.
Despite this, Mr O’Connor, who is a qualified solicitor, claims that he has not been permitted to return to work and has been effectively suspended by it.
His ongoing suspension, he claims, has damaged his reputation.
As a result, Mr O’Connor, with an address at The Avenue, Gorey, Co Wexford, seeks an injunction from the court restraining the defendant from continuing with his exclusion from the workplace, and that his suspension be ended.
He also seeks various declarations from the court including that his suspension is unlawful, and in breach of his contract of employment.
He further seeks damages from the defendant for emotional suffering. The matter came before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore on Thursday.
Following an application from Mr O’Connor’s lawyers the judge granted permission, on an ex-parte basis, to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the defendant credit union.
The judge adjourned the application to a date later this month.