Company owned by Peter Casey ordered to pay €3,000 in unfair dismissal case

Company Owned By Peter Casey Ordered To Pay €3,000 In Unfair Dismissal Case
27/10/2018 Presidential Candidate Peter Casey at the count centre for the Presidential Election in the Convention Centre, Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
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Seán McCárthaigh

A recruitment company owned by the former presidential candidate Peter Casey has been ordered to pay €3,000 to a former executive who was unfairly dismissed from his job.

The Labour Court ruled in favour of an appeal by the former employee, Michael O’Sullivan, against a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission that the level of compensation for his unfair dismissal by Mr Casey’s company, Claddagh Resources, should only be €250.


It observed that the company’s employee handbook was “wholly inadequate” and it did not appear that Claddagh Resources had made any attempt to comply with its own written procedures when dealing with Mr O’Sullivan.

The Labour Court’s deputy chairman, Alan Haugh, said it was also beyond dispute that Mr Casey had flatly refused to allow Mr O’Sullivan to appeal the decision to dismiss him summarily.

At a hearing in August, Mr O’Sullivan claimed the Irish-American businessman who is executive chairman of Claddagh Resources was abusive, bullying and “almost violent” when he was fired “on the spot” from his €45,000 a year job at a meeting on March 18th, 2021.

While Mr O’Sullivan was accused of making “wild, unfounded allegations” against Mr Casey, the Labour Court said it was regrettable that the founder of Claddagh Resources was not available as a witness in an unfair dismissal case against his company.


Mr Casey (65), who finished second in the 2018 presidential election to President Michael D Higgins as well as featuring as a panellist on RTÉ’s version of the TV programme Dragons’ Den, signed the letter of dismissal.

The Labour Court heard that Mr O’Sullivan had never achieved the financial targets specified in his contract which were set at six times his annual salary.

It resulted in a performance improvement plan being put in place for him which was regarded as a final written warning by his employers.

Conflict of evidence

Mr Haugh said there was a conflict of evidence between Mr O’Sullivan and Claddagh executives including Mr Casey’s son, Ryan – the company’s chief executive – over what happened at his annual appraisal meeting on March 18th, 2021.


Mr O’Sullivan believed he was dismissed by Peter Casey at the meeting, but the company maintained that the businessman had said he would leave the final decision to his son.

Witnesses for Claddagh gave evidence that Mr O’Sullivan, who worked with the company since April 2018, was dismissed due to a combination of poor performance and sending a “shocking, threatening and intimidating” email to a female colleague on March 23rd, 2021.

In the email, Mr O’Sullivan claimed he had spoken to a solicitor who confirmed that she could be fired for making defamatory marks about him.

When asked by Mr Haugh if he accepted the email should not have been written, Mr O’Sullivan replied that he was finally standing up for himself “after being bullied for a year” but did not think he was doing anything wrong.



In its ruling the Labour Court said the inclusion of a final written warning in a performance improvement plan devised by the company for Mr O’Sullivan was inconsistent with the nature and purpose of such a plan.

Mr Haugh said it was apparent that Peter Casey has made it known “in no uncertain terms” at the meeting on March 18th, 2021 that he did not see Mr O’Sullivan having a future in his company.

He said it was also clear that Mr Casey had delegated the final decision as to how the relationship between Mr O’Sullivan and the firm would be managed to his son.

The Labour Court said it was neither reasonable nor objectively fair of Ryan Casey to expect Mr O’Sullivan to reach financial targets set out in a second performance improvement plan in the space of a mere three months, particularly given the long lead times involved in executive recruitment.


It noted Mr O’Sullivan had not come anywhere near reaching his targets in almost three years of working at Claddagh Resources.

While the court observed that Mr O’Sullivan had acknowledged that he should not have sent an email to his female colleague because of the inappropriateness of its tone and content, it said there was no credible evidence that the company had carried out a full and fair investigation into the matter before deciding that his actions justified immediate summary dismissal.

It said it was apparent the relationship between the parties had broken down irretrievably and was “utterly devoid of trust and confidence".

Although the Labour Court said the dismissal of Mr O’Sullivan was unfair, it said neither reinstatement nor re-engagement would be appropriate as a remedy.

Mr Haugh said the former recruitment executive had contributed significantly to his dismissal “by virtue of his pattern of sustained underperformance” and most especially by sending an inappropriate and threatening email to a junior female colleague.

He also noted that Mr O’Sullivan had not made any serious efforts to obtain alternative employment in the first three months after his dismissal during a period of five months when he was unemployed.

In finding that he contributed “at least 50 per cent” to his own dismissal, the Labour Court awarded him compensation of €3,000 as marginally less than one month’s gross salary.

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