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IFA woman awarded £29k over 'sham redundancy policy'

By Staff Reporter

The Irish Football Association has been ordered to pay a former commercial manager almost £30,000 in compensation at a tribunal hearing.

Tracey Campbell was awarded £28,716.54 after claiming unfair dismissal from the IFA. Ms Campbell was made redundant in September last year, but a tribunal hearing found that the redundancy process had been "a sham".

It also said the process had been part of an attempt simply to replace Ms Campbell "with someone else".

It was the unanimous decision of the three-person tribunal panel that the claimant was unfairly sacked and should be awarded the compensation.

Written statements and oral evidence were submitted from a number of IFA witnesses, including Oonagh O'Reilly, its director of sales and marketing, who took the decision to sack the claimant, and Gerry Crossan, director of corporate services.

The hearing found the evidence of Ms O'Reilly and Mr Crossan to be "unsatisfactory and, indeed, evasive in several respects".

The tribunal added that, in contrast, it found the evidence of Ms Campbell to be "clear, convincing and consistent".

"The claimant fairly conceded points in cross-examination which were not to her advantage, and this enhanced her credibility for us," it said.

In summary, the tribunal said the IFA failed to prove that there was a redundancy situation at all, and failed to show that Ms Campbell was dismissed for a potentially fair reason under ERO (enforcement restriction orders).

"The claimant therefore succeeds in her claim of unfair dismissal," the findings read.

The tribunal added that even if the IFA had shown that there was a true redundancy situation, in view of the factual findings, the tribunal found that the dismissal would have been otherwise unfair for failure to take reasonable steps to redeploy the claimant to avoid redundancies.

"We find that the redundancy process and recruitment interview were unnecessary and they were part of a drive to bring in a new team which meant getting rid of the claimant," the tribunal findings read.

"The outcome of the redundancy process was therefore predetermined and the redundancy process was a sham.

"The claimant is therefore entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal."

Since being made redundant 15 months ago, Ms Campbell has secured a new job, but on a lower salary.

In response, the IFA said it would not be appealing the verdict.

"The association accepts the ruling of the Fair Employment Tribunal in relation to former employee Tracey Campbell and will not be appealing the decision," it said.

The IFA added: "We note the findings of the tribunal and we intend to learn from any mistakes made by us."

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