Hotel denies dismissal was a ‘homophobic’ overreaction

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

THe manager of a well known hotel has denied claims that a former employee, who opened a gay sauna, was dismissed because of the “orientation” of the premises.

THe manager of a well known hotel has denied claims that a former employee, who opened a gay sauna, was dismissed because of the “orientation” of the premises.

Brendan Comerford was giving evidence at an Employment Appeals Tribunal, which was heard in Castleconnell this Wednesday.

Eamon Ryan, 44, has initiated proceedings against the Charleville Park Hotel claiming he was unfairly dismissed in August 2010.

The Tribunal was told Mr Ryan began working for the hotel in October 2008 after he was hired as manager of the hotel’s leisure centre.

However, he was dismissed in August 2010 after Mr Comerford received an anonymous phone call informing him that Mr Ryan was running another business.

When asked if this was the case, Mr Ryan informed Mr Comerford that he was a director of a company which had opened the sauna in Shannon.

The tribunal was told that a disciplinary investigation was launched and that Mr Ryan was dismissed a few weeks later.

In his evidence, Mr Comerford said he had no issue with the “orientation” of the sauna and he denied suggestions that the dismissal of Mr Ryan was a “homophobic knee-jerk” reaction.

“Our issue has always been with his [employment] contract and his dishonesty,” said Mr Comerford, who submitted Mr Ryan had breached the terms of his contract by setting up the other business.

The tribunal heard that a specific clause in the contract prohibited Mr Ryan from engaging in other work without written permission from his employer.

“It was clear he chose not to tell us about the other business,” stated Mr Comerford, who said there had been an “ongoing deception” on Mr Ryan’s behalf.

In his evidence, Eamon Ryan said he enjoyed working at the Charleville Park Hotel and he said there had never been any problems before he was dismissed.

He said he was unaware of the clause in his contract as he had not been given an opportunity to read it before he signed it.

He told the tribunal the company which runs the sauna was not incorporated until January 2010 and that it was just “an idea” when he started working for the hotel.

The married father-of-one added that he did not believe it impacted on his ability to do his job.

The tribunal will announce its decision later in the year.