University College Cork has been instructed to re-interview one of the college’s lecturers for promotion after the Labour Court heard the original selection process was seriously flawed.
Declan Jordan, a UCC economics lecturer, claimed he was improperly denied promotion to the position of senior lecturer which he applied for in November 2012, despite being eligible.
Lawyers for UCC rejected the claim, stating the college’s Lecturers Promotion and Establishment Board had not ranked him in the top 30 candidates.
Mr Jordan appealed the decision after learning that his application form for promotion had been accompanied by a covering letter from an acting head of department referring to queries that had been raised about him.
UCC’s Academic Promotion Appeals Board upheld his appeal claiming the covering letter represented “fundamental breaches of the scheme”.
The appeals board further suggested a fresh board of assessors should conduct any rehearing of Mr Jordan’s promotion application because of the seriousness of the breaches.
However, it was the original LPEB which carried out the rehearing.
UCC maintained it would not have been possible for a differently constituted LPEB to conduct the ranking exercise.
Mr Jordan told the Labour Court that both the original and reconvened board did not have enough members to make a quorum when decisions on ranking were made.
He also claimed there was a perceived conflict of interest in that the then registrar, who had been implicitly criticised by the appeals board and who was responsible for the governance of the LPEB, should have recused himself from the discussion on the appeal outcome before UCC’s Governing Body as he was also the human resources director.
Mr Jordan maintained there was an established custom and practice within UCC of providing automatic promotion to candidates who had successfully appealed cases to the appeals board — a claim disputed by the university.
Overturning a finding of a rights commissioner that UCC had acted in accordance with the original appeals board decision, the Labour Court ruled that Mr Jordan should be re-interviewed for the promotional position by a “fresh board of assessors,” none of whom had any role in the original selection process.
It also recommended UCC management to ensure that any new board would not be given access to the letter from Mr Jordan’s acting head of department.
UCC is also currently involved in a High Court action involving another lecturer claiming they were denied promotion.
Joan Buckley, the current head of department of management and marketing at UCC, is seeking to halt the appointment of 10 professorial posts at the college after she was not shortlisted for one of the positions.
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