The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has brought a High Court action seeking to clarify a Labour Court finding that a teacher is an employee of the Minister.
The case arises out of a complaint made by Anne Boyle, who worked as a teacher at Hillside Park Preschool pre school in Galway, after the Minister denied her entry into a pension scheme for National school teachers.
In a ruling earlier this month the Labour Court found that Ms Boyle was an employee of the Minister, should be included in the pension scheme, had been discriminated against and awarded her €10,000.
The Minister disputes that Ms Boyle was ever its employee and argues that the Labours Court's determination in this case was unreasonable and contains a fundamental error of law.
In judicial review proceedings the Minister is seeking a High Court Order quashing the Labour Court's determination on July 4th last that found she was the Minister employee. Ms Boyle and the Committee of Hillside Park Preschool are notice parties to the action.
Moving the application today Fechin McDonagh SC for the Minister said the action was being brought because of the significance of the Labour Court's finding that the Minister was Ms Boyle's employer.
The Minister had paid the salary of thousands of primary and secondary teachers all over the country for many years, however the teachers contract of employment was with the respective boards of management of the individual schools.
The Labour Court's decision went against a number of High Court and Supreme Court judgments to the effect that the Minister was not the employer of teachers, counsel said.
The Labour Court's finding was a decision of major significance, and the Minister wanted "clarity" on the matter.
The action arises out of a complaint made by Ms Boyle who had worked at the school which provided education for young members of the Irish Travellers community. Counsel said that the school was funded by way of a grant provided by the Minister.
In 2009 she registered a complaint under the 2001 Protection of Employees Act (Part Time Work) to a Rights Commissioner.
Her complaint was that as was part-time worker but was being treated less favourably than a comparable full time worker, namely a national school teacher, by not being admitted to the National Teachers Pension Scheme.
She named both the Hillside Park Preschool Committee and the Minister as her employer. She said that her payment did not exceed 98% of the salary paid to a teacher employed by the Board of Management of a recognised National School.
The Rights Commissioner found that Ms Boyle was not an employee of the Minister, and made no finding in respect of the school's committee. Ms Boyle appealed that decision to the Labour Court.
The Labour in its finding issued on July 4 last made a number of conclusions including that Ms Boyle was an employee of the Minister, and that her complaint as to less favourable treatment than a full-time comparator was well founded.
The Minister was also directed by the Labour Court to enter Ms Boyle in the pension scheme, and pay her €10,000 compensation for the effects of the discrimination that Ms Boyle suffered.
However it is the Minister's claim that the Labours Court's findings in this matter are contrary to fair procedures and it has acted outside the powers of the 2001 Act.
The Minister claims the Labour Court failed to have a proper regard for Ms Boyle's admission that she had been employed by the Management Committee of Hillside Park PreSchool, and failed to apply the doctrine of precedent in considering the question as to who her employer was.
She had been, the Minister claims, been employed by a separate third party and not the Minister. It was also claimed that the Labour Court made a finding of discrimination in the absence of any evidence.
Ms Boyle it is claimed does not satisfy the statutory requirements allowing her to become part of the pension scheme.
Leave to bring the action was granted by Mr Justice Brian McGovern, on an ex-parte one side only basis. The Judge made the matter returnable to a date in November.
The Minister also was granted a stay on the determination coming into being until the High Court proceedings have been fully determined.