The Labour Court has recommended that the luxury Park Hotel operated by the Brennan brothers pay a former manager €90,000 in settlement of an unfair dismissal claim.
The recommendation – which was published on the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) website – is not binding on the hotel.
A spokesperson for the luxury Kerry hotel last night disputed some of the key elements of the case.
It is understood that the Labour Court recommendation is now being studied by Gore and Grimes, solicitors for Beechside Company which trades as the Park Hotel in Kenmare.
A Park Hotel spokesperson said that in the 40 years of the Brennan brothers, John and Francis, operating the luxury hotel there had never before been such an employment finding.
“In that time, roughly 1,100 people have worked at the hotel – some of those who joined almost 40 years ago are still working there,” they said.
“People arrive at the hotel as employees and leave as friends.”
The hotel celebrated 120 years in business last year and, the spokesperson noted, the Brennan brothers were overwhelmed by cards, messages of support and even flowers from former and current employees.
The five star Park Hotel ranks as one of Ireland’s most successful tourism operations and its profile was such that it helped launch the successful TV career of Francis Brennan.
The Labour Court recommendation came after the hotel manager initiated an action on August 13 last after he was not retained in his senior position.
A spokesperson for the Park Hotel insisted that the manager involved was on a probationary period and the hotel was fully within its rights not to retain him.
After 11 weeks, and within the probationary period, it was decided that the position was not working out as anticipated and the manager was not offered a full time position.
However, the manager maintained during a September 28 Labour Court hearing that he was specifically headhunted for the role of Park Hotel general manager.
He also said he had agreed to move from Dublin to Kerry to take up the role.
The manager maintained that, without warning, he was dismissed from his position on April 27 by managing director John Brennan.
He had said he moved to the Kerry hotel on the basis of a 36-month contract.
In submissions to the Labour Court, solicitors for the hotel pointed out that the contract of employment unequivocally provided that either party could terminate the contract by giving written notice during the probationary period.
The hotel maintained that this was precisely what they did.
However, the Labour Court took issue with the circumstances in which the manager had his employment terminated.
“The Court is of the view that the procedures adopted in the termination of the claimant’s employment were seriously flawed. He was not afforded fair procedures in accordance with the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures,” the summary recommendation found.
The manager had also insisted that his reputation was damaged by the manner in which he was not retained in the role.
In recommending a payment of €90,000 to the former manager in full settlement of his claim, the Labour Court noted that he was not provided with details of any performance issues, no warning was given that his employment was in jeopardy, he was not provided with reasons for his dismissal and he was not afforded an opportunity to reply.