€50,000 Award for Hotel Manager

A hotel manager accused of breaching his employer’s cash handling rules to make payments to workers off-payroll has been awarded €50,000 by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) for unfair dismissal.

An adjudicating officer found that a "threatening and patronising" letter he sent in a bid to "extract a bigger termination settlement" wasn’t up for consideration during disciplinary proceedings – and that the alleged petty cash matters were not a sacking offence.

Fergal Ryan, the former general manager of the Clayton Hotel in Sligo, complained against Dalata Hotel Group PLC under the Unfair Dismissals Act – a complaint which was upheld.

Mr Ryan, the hotel group maintained, approved cash payments to people working for the company, with two such payments going to his own partner, Kasia Smolinska, a former restaurant manager at the hotel. The alleged issues with cash handling came to light in the company in the wake of a May 2019 row between Mr Ryan and his line manager, Des McCann, the WRC heard.

The WRC was told that after a meeting between the two men regarding the running of the Clayton Hotel in Sligo, Mr Ryan wrote to Mr McCann stating that he had accused him of financial impropriety and undermined him. In the letter, Mr Ryan claimed his line manager was trying to "manage him out of the business" unless he accepted a termination agreement.

Mr McCann wrote back to say Mr Ryan’s letter "wholly mischaracterised" their discussions and that he would be lodging a formal grievance over the matter.

“I am not satisfied that [Mr Ryan] was entirely forthright in his evidence at the hearing,” wrote adjudicating officer Catherine Byrne in her decision.