Easons HR manager secures High Court order against retailer

Easons HR manager secures High Court order against retailer

Eason Group's human resources manager of six years has secured an interim High Court order restraining the company from removing him from his post.

Tony Duggan, 60, has worked at Eason for 24 years. The order will also prevent the Irish bookseller from promoting someone else into a differently named position which he claims is essentially his, the Irish Independent reports.

Peter Ward, representing Tony Duggan, told Ms Justice Mary Laffoy in Dublin on 4th March that Eason had adopted the "extraordinary" position of denying Mr Duggan was its group human resources manager, when two former managing directors of the company – Gordon Bolton and Basil McAllister – had provided affidavits saying that he was.

Mr Ward went onto say that Mr Duggan had had an excellent working relationship with his superiors, but problems arose after Conor Whelan was appointed managing director of Eason in September 2009. Solicitors for Eason had said in an email dated last 3rd March that it intended to proceed with recruiting a director of human resources and that this would not affect Mr Duggan.

The email also said it involved very different responsibilities, but the tasks outlined were all matters in which Mr Duggan was intimately involved, Mr Ward said.

Ms Justice Laffoy granted Mr Duggan an interim order, returnable to early next week, restraining the firm from removing him from his position or appointing any person to what Eason described as a new post of "director of human resources and change management".

She was satisfied Mr Duggan had raised a fair issue on whether Eason was purporting to breach his contract by recruiting someone else to his post.

Mr Duggan was head of personnel at Eason when he joined in 1987 before being appointed group human resources manager in 2005 by Mr Bolton.

Last week The Bookseller reported that around 60 senior working staff in Dublin had cast a vote of no confidence in Whelan after expressing dissatisfaction in "the direction the company has been taking" over the past year.

Workers’ union Siptu told The Bookseller: "There are several people who feel they have given a lot to the company over the years and they believe they are being replaced by less experienced people."

However a spokesman for Eason said the management team was being "strengthened" and that "the board fully support Conor Whelan and his management team," in relation to the no confidence vote.

Easons reported making a loss of €10.1m (£8.29m) in 2009.

According to the Irish Independent, the book chain posted the loss in the 12 months to the end of January 2010. The paper said the loss was "largely" due to it selling the British Bookshops chain to investment firm Endless in 2009. Sales also fell 16.4% to €313.6m during the same period.