Woman gets €26,445 after boss kicked office door closed and stopped her exit

A former employee of a Dublin company has been awarded €26,445 by an employment appeals tribunal after the company owner kicked an office door closed and blocked it, preventing her from leaving.

The tribunal heard Michelle Devereux started working with Kingswood Computing, owned by GL, in 2002. GL’s daughter joined in 2010.

Evidence was given that GL and his daughter had a very volatile relationship in the workplace and, on a daily basis, would aggressively argue, shout, and curse at each other. Ms Devereux’s desk was between theirs.

GL told her to get a headset for calls so she could block out the sounds around her. Ms Devereux said on one occasion GL’s daughter asked GL not to hit her so he dragged her to the conference room.

In January 2013, Ms Devereux, GL’s daughter and another employee were called to a meeting and asked if they had any concerns. The claimant raised the aggression and arguing as well as an unwillingness by GL’s daughter to take part in training. In response, and in front of the others, GL told her there had been two customer complaints against her but refused to give her details.

On January 29, 2013, GL and his daughter were arguing. GL told Ms Devereux to take an important call. She said during the call, GL interrupted three times. The third time, GL asked her to put the customer on hold and asked her into the conference room. She said GL slammed the door while shouting and cursing at her. He believed that, as she had apologised to the customer, he was now liable for any problems as she admitted fault. Ms Devereux said: “I’m done” and tried to open the door to leave the room. GL kicked the door closed and blocked it, preventing her from leaving.

Ms Devereux said the office was dark and only had one exit. She was scared and didn’t know what was going to happen to her. She said eventually he let her out and said “get your stuff and leave”. She left the office and never returned.

She went to the GP and was put on certified sick leave.She resigned in April, 2013. The tribunal awarded her €26,445 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

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