A SUPERVISOR at the Limerick Fire Service who was sacked after a sexual harassment investigation has failed in an unfair dismissal action.
Jon Monnickendam was dismissed for gross misconduct by Limerick City Council in October 2011 following an independent investigation.
The woman who made the complaints against her former supervisor, Mr Monnickendam, gave evidence at the Employment Appeals Tribunal of name-calling, sexual innuendo and insinuation that she was a lesbian.
She said she had initially viewed the name-calling as “banter” but it had progressed to the stage that she had verbally complained about Mr Monnickendam’s conduct as early as 2008. She had followed this up with a document to management detailing her allegations in June 2010.
Another member of staff at the fire control centre gave evidence of Mr Monnickendam having exposed himself to her on two occasions, the first of which she had “laughed off”. But she had taken offence on the second occasion and asked Mr Monnickendam’s partner, who also worked for the council, to ensure there was no repeat.
Another member of staff said he had witnessed Mr Monnickendam upsetting the complainant with name-calling. This type of “banter”, he said, was not the norm although there was “an offensive sense of humour and a level of sexual banter” within their place of work. This witness said he was also aware that Mr Monnickendam had a picture of himself exposed on his camera phone.
It was Mr Monnickendam’s case to his director of service that former colleagues were colluding in a “conspiracy” against him. He had no recollection of the woman asking him to stop his behaviour towards her in 2008 and said that within the previous year, she had gone with him and another colleague to a sex shop during their lunch break. He said he had also been called names by the woman and there was a culture of “sexual banter” in the workplace.
Mr Monnickendam’s case also focused on whether the investigation carried out by the independent company was predetermined.
The tribunal noted Mr Monnickendam had been given an opportunity to respond to the investigation report and had also declined the right to appeal his dismissal to the city manager.