Ireland: Hotel manager sacked for opening gay sauna awarded unfair dismissal compensation

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A former hotel leisure centre manager, who was sacked after he opened a gay sauna, has been awarded over 25,000€ (£21,000) in compensation.

Eamon Ryan, 44, from Ballysimon, filed a complaint against the Charleville Park Hotel, after he was dismissed in August 2010.

During the employment tribunal which was heard earlier in 2013, the hotel’s manager, Brian Comerford, denied that the “orientation”, of the sauna opened by Ryan was the reason for his dismissal, and denied that his dismisaal was a “homophobic knee-jerk reaction”.

He claimed that Ryan was dismissed after Comerford received an anonymous phone call informing him that he was a director of another business, which he said was a breach of his contract, and amounted to gross misconduct.

“It was clear he chose not to tell us about the other business,” stated Mr Comerford, who claimed there had been an “ongoing deception” on Mr Ryan’s behalf.

As a part of his evidence, Eamon Ryan said that the company which runs the sauna was not incorporated until January 2010, and that it was simply “an idea” when he started working for the hotel.

The married father of three, continued that he was not involved in the day-to-day running of the sauna, and he said it had no impact on his role at the hotel.

The tribunal made the ruling despite the fact that there was a specific clause in Ryan’s contract to prohibit him from engaging in other work.

In its ruling the tribunal “notes that his other business was 60 killometres away and while his contract included a restrictive covenant, he was not advised that it was breached it could lead to his dismissal.”

It also pointed to the fact that he had never been subject to any other disciplinary action, and that his job in the sauna had not interfered with his role as manager at the hotel’s leisure centre.

After ruling that Ryan was unfairly dismissed, the tribunal awarded him 25,333€ in compensation, reports the Limerick Leader.

A statement from Eamon Ryan read: “The Tribunal has found that I was duly unfairly dismissed, and I am pleased that my character and reputation has been exonerated. I would like to thank my wife and her family for their support throughout.”