Former Hyde and Seek worker alleges colleague pushed and threatened her
Posted on 19th May 2021 at 20:14
A childcare worker in the Hyde and Seek creche pushed a colleague who was holding an infant and threatened to kill her, the Labour Court has been told.
Jade Byrne Hoey, the then 19-year-old woman who was allegedly assaulted, claimed she was reprimanded over the incident, while the 26-year-old woman who pushed her received no admonishment.
Ms Byrne Hoey, who is now 21, alleges she was discriminated against because of her age. She further alleges she was punished for making a protected disclosure about the incident by being told to work in another Hyde and Seek branch and by being fired after she refused.
One month after the alleged incident, the Hyde and Seek creches came to public attention when they was the subject of the RTÉ Investigates programme ‘Creches, Behind Closed Doors’ which detailed a series of alleged childcare failings at the facilities.
The case before the Labour Court on Wednesday was dealing with a number of appeals which arose from previous Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearings relating to Ms Byrne Hoey’s employment at the Glasnevin, Dublin branch of the Creche.
Both parties are appealing aspects of the WRC rulings.
Contract of employment
In her evidence on Wednesday morning, Ms Hoey alleged she was never given a copy of her contract of employment, that Hyde and Seek discriminated against her on the basis of her age, that Hyde and Seek punished her for making a disclosure and that it breached the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company denies any wrongdoing.
The alleged discrimination arose from an incident on June 11th, 2019. Ms Byrne Hoey told her barrister Jason Murray she was helping to put away chairs in the creche when she noticed her colleague “stacking chairs in an aggressive manner” and “mumbling to herself”.
‘Come outside and I’ll kill you.’
Ms Byrne Hoey said she told her colleague she was frightening the children in the room and she should calm down. Ms Byrne Hoey was holding a toddler in her arms at the time who was about one and a half years old.
She said her colleague came over to her, put her finger in her face and said “I’ll kill you. Come outside and I’ll kill you.”
Ms Byrne Hoey said the woman then pushed her arm as she was holding the child.
The complainant said she then put the child back in his room and continued on with her work. As she was leaving work an hour later, Siobhán Davy, one of the directors of Hyde and Seek, stopped her, Ms Byrne Hoey said.
According to the complainant, Ms Davy told her that if something similar happens in future she should just get a manager and not say anything herself. Ms Davy allegedly told her that the other woman had gone home very upset and that “I don’t want anyone going home upset.”
The complainant said this conversation caused her to become upset and left her feeling embarrassed.
Ms Byrne Hoey told the court the next day she was called into a meeting where she was given an “informal warning” in the form of a letter.
The letter accused her of failing to follow management direction and engaging in unprofessional behaviour.
She said, to her knowledge, the woman who allegedly pushed her had received no reprimand.
Four days later she sent an email to her employers detailing in the incident involving her colleague, Ms Byrne Hoey said. There was no reply to this email except for a message telling her she had to work in the Tolka branch of the Creche the next day.
She said she felt this was in response to her email. She took the day off due to illness caused by anxiety.
She was then called into a disciplinary meeting which she also did not attend due to illness. Ms Hoey Byrne was then told she was terminated.
It was repeatedly put to Ms Hoey that there was no evidence she was treated differently because she was younger than her colleagues.
Ms Hoey said she believed she was viewed as “a child” while the colleague who allegedly pushed her was viewed as “a woman” because she had worked there longer
However, she agreed there was nothing beyond her belief to support this claim.
In her evidence Ms Davy said she did not had a conversation with Ms Hoey Byrne following the incident on June 11th and that she only arrived at the creche after the complainant had finished work.
She said the “letter of concern” given to the complainant the next day did not relate to the pushing incident, but to an interaction between Ms Byrne Hoey and another senior staff member.
Ms Davy agreed with counsel that she did not view 19-year-olds in a more negative light than older women.
The case continues at a later date.
Share this post: