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ATTENDANCE ON LUCINDA MCKENNA Ms. McKenna commenced employment with Cavendish Limited: Certificate in Employment Law Assignment, CC, Ireland

University Carlow College (CC)
Subject Certificate in Employment Law

ATTENDANCE ON LUCINDA MCKENNA Ms. McKenna commenced employment with Cavendish Limited on the 20th October 2008. Her salary was €35,000 and she received an annual Christmas bonus of €3,500 per annum.

When she started working for Cavendish Limited she was given a letter of appointment, of which I have given you a copy, but no contract of employment beyond that. Ms. McKenna is one of two Administration Officers in the head office of Cavendish Limited, which is garden waste recycling and landscaping company.

She had few problems working there until late March/early April 2022. In March 2022, Dan Ryan was appointed General Manager of Cavendish Limited, replacing the previous General Manager with whom Ms. McKenna had a great working relationship.

Previously to this, Dan Ryan had worked as the Warehouse Manager. Ms McKenna believes that she is being bullied by Dan Ryan. She is uncomfortable with Dan Ryan since there was an incident prior to his appointment as General Manager.

In September 2021, he sent her a pornographic image as part of a cartoon by email. She was the only recipient. They had previously exchanged emails containing jokes but she thought this was very inappropriate. She sent an email back saying “Dan – WTH??? Please do not send emails like that to me again – it’s completely offensive!!!”

She received no more emails and very little further contact. In late March 2022 there was a drinks party on a Friday evening in the office to celebrate Dan Ryan’s appointment. Everyone had plenty to drink and went on to the local pub for more. At about 11pm Dan Ryan took Ms. McKenna aside at the bar and said, “I’m the boss now – what I say goes – when I say jump you say how high”. He then gave an evil laugh.

Since May 2022, the company has had some cash flow problems. Ms. McKenna has received calls on a daily basis from creditors asking to speak directly to Dan Ryan but he has refused to take any of these calls. On Dan Ryan’s instructions Ms. McKenna has been left saying “that will be paid next week” and nothing more.

The calls from creditors have continued until this day and Ms. McKenna finds that this has caused great stress to her. On the 5th May 2022, Dan Ryan was leaving the office as the client was standing by the photocopier. He pushed her out of the way and said nothing. On the 12th May 2022 the other Administration Officer, Clodagh Dunne, left because of the intolerable working conditions. This left Ms. McKenna with an increased workload – she has had to answer more calls and do more typing. She used to try and get a coffee break at least a couple times per week but since the secretary’s resignation Ms. McKenna is not able to take a break, even for a quick cup of coffee at her desk. On the 7th June 2022 Ms. McKenna approached Dermot Cavendish (the Managing Director of Cavendish Limited). She asked if she could speak with him in his office alone. Ms. McKenna recalls saying:

“I’m feeling really stressed out. I don’t think Dan likes me very much. Also I can’t handle these creditors calling all of the time and when are you going to replace Clodagh? I’m going mad with the phones here and I’m struggling to squeeze in a lunch break let alone a coffee break.”

He said words to the following effect:

“Don’t be silly. You know how Dan is. It’s nothing personal. And when we get paid for the Sunnyvale House and Gardens contract we’ll have no creditors ringing us up. You’re a great asset Lucinda – you will be rewarded at the end with a nice bonus. Now keep up the good work.”

Ms. McKenna is still waiting to be paid for last year’s Christmas bonus so the promise of a “nice bonus” was little comfort to her.

Since his appointment, Dan Ryan has the minimum personal contact with Ms. McKenna. When he is in the office talking to another employee and Ms. McKenna comes in, the conversation ends. He insists on contacting her by email and phone even when they are only yards apart.

On the 8th July 2022, a staff bonding weekend was organised to an outdoor adventure centre in Connemara. The client had previously taken this time off to go on annual leave and she believes that the only reason the date of the 8th July 2022 was picked was so that she wouldn’t be there. Also, she took annual leave because she was stressed and felt that this would give her time to recover. She had not been sleeping well.

A few weeks ago, the client was called into Dan Ryan’s office. He gave her a written warning as a result of her being 30 minutes late that day. She said she was rarely late – there had been a crash on the N1 and that was the reason for the delay. She burst into tears and left the office. She went to her doctor the next day who certified her as unfit to work and she has been certified unfit to work since. I attach a medical report.

She wishes to know whether there is any possible legal redress for the situation in which she finds herself, and if so, what steps she needs to take and what remedies are open to her. In relation to the treatment the client is being subjected to, while she would prefer to remain in her job, she is unsure if she can continue working there given the current level of stress.

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