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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Gordon Deegan

Diamond firm ordered to pay €43,625 after unfair dismissal of worker

Element Six in Shannon, Co Clare. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Shannon-based industrial diamond manufacturer Element Six has been ordered to pay out €43,625 compensation for the unfair dismissal of an administrative worker.

In his findings, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator Kevin Baneham has found that Gráinne
Loonam’s dismissal by Element Six Ltd was unfair because the redundancy was not genuine and did not comply with fair procedures.

Ms Loonam was due to return to work from maternity leave around the time of dismissal in May 2020.

Mr Baneham also found that “the redundancy dismissal was completed in a very short period of time, and it is not clear what the urgency was”.

“Most significantly, there was a vacancy which the complainant was well suited for but for which she was never considered,” he stated.

Ms Loonam’s maternity leave replacement obtained further work with Element Six and jobs agency Eflexes, commencing a new role on May 11th 2020, while Ms Loonam “was manoeuvred out of her employment” and “the dismissal was unfair,” Mr Baneham said.

Ms Loonam gave evidence of impressive efforts to secure alternative employment but did not find a new job, he said, and she “did not contribute to the dismissal and sought to mitigate her loss in every way”.

Mr Baneham said that the €43,625 compensation is equivalent to 18 months’ pay.

Ms Loonam worked for Element Six between May 2014 and May 28th 2020. She was represented in the case by David O’Regan, BL instructed by Kate McInerney, Michael Houlihan & Partners Solicitors. Mr Baneham stated that Ms Loonam has many strings to her bow. She had worked with Element Six as a personal assistant to a senior manager, and also did finance, accounting, administrative and human resource roles.

Ms Loonam was employed by an agency, Eflexes, and placed to work with Element Six, the findings said. She was informed on May 8, 2020 that she was being made redundant and Ms Loonam was clear that she would ‘fight this’.

On the same date the email was sent to the department leads about whether there was an alternative to save Ms Loonam’s employment, her maternity leave replacement “was offered a contract for a new role, a role for which the complainant was never considered”.

“This new role was as cover for a maternity leave of a family member of the agency principal,” Mr Baneham said.

Element Six submitted that Ms Loonam’s employment ended lawfully on grounds of redundancy, in particular the restrictions on travel ensuing from the Covid-19 pandemic and that a full and fair consultation process took place.

Mairead McKenna of Eflexes told the WRC hearing that Ms Loonam’s role was redundant because of pandemic-related travel restrictions and that Element Six’s departments indicated that there were no vacancies.

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