A teacher who claimed he was victimised after making a protected disclosure about alleged breaches of copyright laws in school texts has been awarded over €43,000 by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
In a decision published today, the WRC upheld a complaint by Leonard Skelly against Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board, who had "penalised" him by not interviewing him for a teaching role.
Mr Skelly was employed as a teacher of Spanish and economics in the academic year of 2017-2018 on a fixed-term contract from 1 September, 2017, until 31 August, 2018, and was on probation.
Mr Skelly said that when teaching in the school he spoke up about the use of "copyright-frauded material", which was "sub-standard" and not adequately monitored.
Mr Skelly said the students were struggling at a higher level and their attainment and success was affected.
He claimed he was targeted because he would not write up the texts.
Mr Skelly said he was told to copy units of a book on to One Note, which was the school system.
When he reviewed it, he said he saw material which was copyrighted, including direct screenshots and sound files.
Mr Skelly said he was pressurised to produce this material and he refused to use the "copyright-frauded" material.
Mr Skelly said he was penalised according to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, as he was precluded from recruitment into the business studies post in the school.
He said he applied on the ETB portal but was not called for an interview.
Mr Skelly also claimed that as result of his disclosure, he was accused of not doing his job and of "blackmailing" the school.
He said he asked how, as a teacher working full-time, he could also write up text books and said the texts were not adequate for the Junior Certificate exams.
The respondent, Dun Laoghaire ETB, said Mr Skelly's failure to be appointed to the post was "wholly unrelated" to any protected disclosure.
Dun Laoghaire ETB said Mr Skelly obtained 375 marks and the successful candidate 390 - the successful candidate had a 1:1 in her primary degree, higher diploma in education, an A grade in teaching practice, and experience working in financial services.
The respondent said that at the time the business studies role was advertised, Mr Skelly was not recognised as a teacher on the Teaching Council website and could not be interviewed for the role.
Adjudicating Officer Davnet O'Driscoll said: "I find that Mr. Skelly made a protected disclosure within the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, as he had a reasonable belief - even if he was wrong but reasonably mistaken - that a criminal offence of breach of copyright has been, was being, or was likely to be committed in the school".
"Penalisation also includes not being recruited, or selected for interview," wrote Ms O'Driscoll.
"Mr Skelly has given evidence that he has not been invited to any other interviews following his protected disclosure."
"Minutes provided for the parents' association from September 2018 show there was a shortage of business teachers in the school."
"I can only conclude that Mr Skelly was penalised in not being interviewed for a role of business studies teacher for the academic year 2018-2019, for which he was well-qualified."
"A second fixed-term contract from the school would have provided Mr Skelly with a contract of indefinite duration, consequent security and as a result he has suffered detriment and financial loss."
"I direct the respondent [Dun Laoghaire ETB] to ensure that all future applications for teaching positions by the complainant [Mr Skelly] are given full consideration. I award compensation of €43,425 to be paid by the respondent," said Ms O'Driscoll.