Couple claim they lost €45,000 after unfair dismissal

A husband and wife claim they lost just over €45,000 after their unfair dismissal by the publishers of a free newspaper which closed last year.

Katie Mythen-Lynch, the former editor of The Cork News freesheet, and her husband, Jonathon Lynch, the former production manager, outlined the details at an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) hearing in Cork yesterday as they brought separate appeals under the Unfair Dismissals Act and the Terms of Employment and Information Act against a Rights Commissioner’s rulings in their cases against Cork News and Media Ltd.

The company ceased publishing last June and was placed in liquidation. The liquidator was represented at the hearing and a legal representative for the company said she was attending as a courtesy to the tribunal but had no instructions in the matter. The couple’s cases went uncontested.

The three-person tribunal was told that Ms Mythen-Lynch and Mr Lynch were hired by Cork News and Media at around the same time in August 2009.

The couple said that without advance notice, they were both called to a meeting on August 26, 2014, with the company’s managing director, Daniel Carey, and a HR consultant.

Mr Lynch said several issues were put to him during the meeting, and that he answered as best he could. However, he said, it soon became clear that the meeting was a disciplinary hearing.

He said the company representatives then consulted in private before telling him that he was being dismissed with immediate effect. He said he was given 10 minutes to gather his belongings and leave the building. Ms Mythen-Lynch said she was also dismissed with immediate effect.

They both disputed a Rights Commissioner’s assertion that they had received contracts of employment late in their term of employment.

Mr Lynch told the tribunal he never received, or signed, anything resembling a contract. Ms Mythen-Lynch said that, despite asking for a contract several times, it was never forthcoming.

Mr Lynch said that, arising out of their dismissals, they could not meet mortgage repayments on their home and had to arrange a six-month ‘mortgage holiday’ with their bank.

Ms Mythen-Lynch secured work in Dublin in December 2014 and Mr Lynch got a new job four months later. They relocated to the capital, where they had to pay €2,700 in rent each month.

Their legal representative, Michael MacNamee, BL, said the losses in earnings, rent. and relocation expenses were just over €21,000 in Mr Lynch’s case, and just under €25,000 in Ms Mythen-Lynch’s case.

The tribunal will issue written determinations in due course.


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