Fruit and vegetable firm obtains interim court orders against technical manager
Posted on 25th May 2020 at 21:24
Company alleges she forwarded confidential company information to her personal email
A fruit and vegetable distributor has obtained interim High Court orders against a technical manager whom it alleges forwarded confidential company information to her personal email.
Mr Justice Brian O’Moore was told Agnieszka Luz had been suspended by Terway Unlimited Company, trading as Begley’s Distribution, early on Monday morning when she arrived for work.
On Monday afternoon the judge granted an ex parte application (one side only represented) by Mark Connaughton SC, with Maireád McKenna, for interim orders requiring Ms Luz to preserve the relevant material and restraining her from disclosing it without either the consent of the applicant company or a court order.
The judge said he was granting the orders, returnable to next week, on the basis of taking at face value what company director Gregory Begley said in an affidavit about the nature of the information.
He said there would clearly be an issue whether the material referred to was confidential or not, and he had formed no view as to the rights of wrongs of the dispute.
Earlier, Mr Connaughton said Ms Luz, of Annfield View, Porterstown, Dublin 15, started work 12 to 14 years ago with the company which employs about 100 people and with a “relatively small” management structure. Ms Luz held various positions, and was currently technical manager.
He said there was an investigation last year into a data breach at the company. Ms Luz was among those investigated, but there was no evidence she was involved, and the investigation, as far as she was concerned, had concluded.
A cohabitee was found to be in breach in disclosing certain details concerning remuneration, counsel said.
He said matters “became more difficult”, and there were interactions last April and this month which caused Mr Begley concerns in relation to Ms Luz, including that she had accused him of trying to “exit her” from the company.
An IT consultant was asked by the firm to carry out a report, and its May 22nd report identified that some 600 individual emails across a variety of topics were copied and forwarded on dates in April and May to Ms Luz’s personal email address with a server in Poland.
His side’s case was that this included some highly-sensitive company data, Mr Connaughton said. The firm does not know what has been done with the material.
He said insofar as Ms Luz has expressed directly or through solicitors any grievance concerning her employment, including any matters going back to 2019, she was afforded an express opportunity to progress those through procedures but had not done so.
Counsel said when Ms Luz arrived for work early on Monday, she had been addressed by Mr Begley about the data allegation, had not denied it but had not provided any information to Mr Begley.
He said she was informed she was suspended, and was asked to return her company phone, which she did. Her current status was an existing employee but suspended.
Later on Monday morning the company received a “slightly curious” letter from solicitors for Ms Luz referring to a “meeting” with Mr Begley and another company employee. The letter stated Ms Luz was told she was suspended, would get a letter outlining the basis for that, and was asked to return all company property.
Counsel said the letter expressed the view it seemed the firm had no intention of having Ms Luz back again, but did not deal substantively with the issues in this court application.
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