Event management firm that attracts Heads of State to global tech events ordered to pay €90k for unfair dismissal

An event management firm here that attracts Heads of State and company CEOs to its events has been ordered to pay €90,000 in compensation to a Speaker Director for his unfair dismissal.

Event management firm that attracts Heads of State to global tech events ordered to pay €90k for unfair dismissal

An event management firm here that attracts Heads of State and company CEOs to its events has been ordered to pay €90,000 in compensation to a Speaker Director for his unfair dismissal.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Jim Dolan made the award after finding that the director was unfairly dismissed in July of last year.

The man worked as a Speaker Director with the company between September 2014 and July 2, 2018, and was earning a salary of €90,000 - no parties are named in the decision.

During the director’s time with the business, the event management firm’s four events had up-scaled significantly, from 1,200 speakers in 2014 to over 3,000 speakers in 2018 and the overall attendance at their events grew from 50,000 to over 100,000 attendees.

Mr Dolan stated that the firm is an Irish company that holds events across the world where it gathers the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing start-ups, policymakers and Heads of State to discuss the future and possibilities in the industry.

As Speaker Director, the claimant influenced the topics of discussion, the desired speakers and the compilation of panels across a number of the firm’s events and stages.

The director was the central point of contact for the various teams working on such events and worked with other Speakers Team members to ensure a consistently high calibre of speakers were acquired for all event stages.

However, in May 2018, a recently appointed Head of Speaker Operations amalgamated two Speaker teams and it became evident to the firm, they claim, that the claimant’s role as Speaker Director was no longer required and could be easily subsumed into other existing roles.

On June 19, 2018, the firm’s Chief of Staff and Head of HR told the claimant that his role was at risk of being made redundant.

The man received his redundancy notice on July 2, 2018.

However, a letter from the man's solicitors dated July 17, 2018, to the firm alleged that their client was “shut out of the office, marginalised and isolated from his colleagues, all of which had a damaging effect on his reputation”.

The letter alleged that there was no genuine redundancy in place at the time and further alleged that the claimant’s role was being carried out by a recently appointed Head of Speaker Operations with the assistance of Mr H, the Claimant’s former line manager.

The man’s solicitor also claimed the use of the term “garden leave” for the claimant’s paid leave during the consultation process was evident that the decision to terminate his employment had already been made.

In response, the firm wrote back to state how sorry the company was to see the claimant go and that there was no alternative position within the business that was acceptable to him.

The letter said that “needless to say, the company would have preferred for (the claimant) to remain in the company as there was never any issue with his performance or with his relationship with the CEO.”

The firm rejected the allegations that the claimant was marginalised or isolated and that he was never refused access to his desk.

The company claimed that the Speaker Director's employment was terminated by reason of redundancy and the firm followed fair and reasonable procedures.

In response, the legal representative for the complainant believes this is “a very simple case”.

He said that by openly offering the complainant €5,000 at the start of the hearing the firm is holding its hands up by offering this amount of money.

In his findings, Mr Dolan found that a genuine redundancy situation did not exist and ordered the firm to pay to the director compensation in the sum of €90,000.

The firm can appeal the outcome to the Labour Court.

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