Updated: 01/02/17 : 05:13:27
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Waitress prevents winding up of Sligo restaurant

A waitress from Co Sligo is still awaiting compensation from one of the richest men in Ireland, after she was unfairly dismissed because the company wanted a "fresh face".

Independent.ie reports that Claudine Harnesse from Co Sligo took a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) after being unfairly dismissed from Source Sligo, a renowned restaurant and wine bar owed by Ray and Eileen Monahan.

Claudine told Joe Duffy on RTÉ's Liveline that she started working for the restaurant in 2010 as a head waitress and was told in 2013 that she was being dismissed.

"I was told that John Monahan, (son of the Monahans) was taking over the business and wanted a fresh face and I was no longer required. I was told on Wednesday that Saturday would be my last day.

"Me and two other girls were dismissed because they wanted a fresh face and a new team put into the restaurant and I was no longer required."

The restaurant was owned by Eileen and Ray Monahan who have portfolio of properties nationally and internationally.

Claudine told Independent.ie that she cried when management told her they wanted a "fresh face".

"It was horrendous and insulting. My initial reaction was to cry. I asked my manager did I do anything wrong and he said no."

Claudine went to the EAT in 2014 and filed a case for unfair dismissal.

'Failed to Show'

"The Monahans failed to show up at the Tribunal even they were given many correspondences from solicitors and the Tribunal but they never showed up. If you did something you're happy with, why not show up and defend your actions?" Claire told Independent.ie

The tribunal was heard by three judges and Claudine was awarded €16, 340 on the basis of unfair dismissal in July 2014.

"It was appalling on a personal level as a woman, it was appalling that we had no contract with our terms and conditions and it was appalling the time frame of the dismissal.

"That was in July 2014 and I still haven't got paid. No correspondence at all from the solicitors."

Claudine said that she's shocked that "one of the richest men in Ireland" wont pay her what he owes.

"I have a child and I'm married. My husband was involved in a car crash and has been out of work for a year. We really need the money that I'm owed.

"The money would allow us to stop renting our home and get a mortgage. It would mean very little to them but would mean the world to us."

Shortly after Claudine was dismissed, the restaurant was wound down with all staff let go.

"The owners since went on and applied for a voluntary strike off, a legal document claiming they had no liabilities in excess of €150 considering the outstanding tribunal money had never been paid.

"I put through a objection against this and it was approved so they couldn't voluntarily strike off the business.

"They haven't wound up the business, they haven't gone into receivership or liquidation. If they had I would have applied to the liquidator and got the money that way."

Claudine said that her next step is to take the Monahans to court.

"If the settlement still isn't paid, I'll have to go to court."

Ray Monahan issued a statement to Liveline saying his son negotiated an agreement with three members of staff making them redundant on November 6, 2013. He said it would have included monies owned plus a top-up where the employees would have collected a cheque.

"I found that statement very insulting. I never met with any of the Monahans. If they're happy with their actions, then I wonder why won't they appear in legal proceedings," Claudine told Independent.ie

UPDATE: 2pm

Sligo Today
can confirm that in a statement issued today by Drury Communications, on behalf of Ray Monahan, an apology to Ms Harnesse was made and assurance given that all outstanding monies would now be paid.

It came to light today on RTÉ's Liveline that a second former member of staff, Stuart Skeffington also received an Employment Appeals Tribunal judgement against Source Sligo for unfair dismissal and was awarded an amount in excess of €7,000.

This claim, according today's statement will now also be settled.