A businessman has been accused of trying to "derail a court" after saying he's not sure he has ever met a worker who has made statutory complaints against his company.
The businessman told the Workplace Relations Commission today (TUES) that his firm has "zero" to do with William McDonagh, who has brought a series of statutory complaints against WFD Food Delivery Galway Ltd, including the Organisation of Working Time Act, the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, and the Employment Equality Act, alleging discriminatory dismissal.
In pleadings today, Mr McDonagh’s solicitor said his client was never given a contract of employment, had been required to work an average of 67 hours per week, and was fired after leaving a shift to deal with a family emergency.
The company’s owner, Jason Gallagher, appeared at a remote hearing today to respond to the claim.
He disputed a start date of November 2020 set out in the complaint form and said: "My position is that WFP Food Delivery Galway Ltd has no employees. It’s never had any employees. It’s a marketing and publishing company with only me and my wife involved. I’m really not sure why they’ve brought me here," he said.
"You know who he is, though?" asked adjudicating officer Brian Dolan.
"I’m not actually sure. I’m not actually sure I’ve ever met him or not," Mr Gallagher said.
"I would like it noted that the respondent hasn’t taken the courtesy of filing any submission to this court, while we’ve filed over 200 pages. It’s been very difficult for us to prepare because we’ve had nothing," said counsel for the complainant Ciarán Tansey of Damien Tansey Solicitors LLP.
"He has the wrong company in here today and he hasn’t done his due diligence," said Mr Gallagher. He the firm had "no employees" and had "never traded".
"You are also a director of WFD Food Delivery Ireland Ltd," Mr Dolan said.
"That has different directors, different accounts, different HR, different legal teams… I’m not here to discuss Ireland; I’m here for Galway. Galway has zero to do with Mr McDonagh," Mr Gallagher said.
Mr Dolan asked why he had not raised the name of the firm as an issue when he received the statutory complaint form in May 2021.
"It had Galway Ltd on it. I didn’t do anything about it because Galway has zero to do with it," Mr Gallagher said.
Mr Tansey said it was "a bit late in the day" to be raising the name of the firm as an issue.
"Same address, same people, I don’t see any issue with that," Mr Tansey added.
"It’s not accepted it’s the same people," Mr Gallagher replied.
His position was that he was the sole owner and director of WFD Food Delivery Galway Ltd and that WFD Food Delivery Ireland had other directors apart from him.
"The other directors of Ireland have rights too," he said, adding that "95% or 98%" of what had been alleged in the complainant submissions referred to another director.
"He knows what’s going on – he’s acting to derail a court and I think it should be noted. This court today was entitled to a little more response," Mr Tansey said.
The adjudicator said that it was open to the complainant side to amend the complaint form in the circumstances, and provided the parties with relevant case law in the area, and Mr Tansey said he would make that application.
Mr Gallagher said he intended to resist it.
"I think it’s a delaying tactic, it’s delaying what might have been a hearing today," Mr Tansey said.
"I can’t proceed with a case when I’m not entirely sure who the respondent is," Mr Dolan said.
He adjourned the matter and asked Mr Gallagher to make a full set of submissions within ten working days, with responses due from the complainant side in the fortnight following that.
He said that on the next date, he would hear applications on amending name of the respondent on the complaint form, reserve his position on that preliminary matter, and then proceed directly to a full hearing of the complaints.