Cunningham v Intel Ireland Limited

On return from a combination of sick leave and maternity leave in 2008, Marie Cunningham instituted a claim for gender discrimination against her employer.  Her primary allegation was that Intel failed to allow her to return to her original job as a Grade 9 GER Workforce Mobility Manager and failed to provide her with a job to match her grade level.  In her outline of complaints before the Equality Tribunal, Ms Cunningham claimed that the alleged discrimination affected her “health and wellbeing”.  Ms Cunningham’s personal injury claim before the High Court also related to the same alleged damage to her “health and wellbeing”.  The claim before the Equality Tribunal was rejected in February 2012 and is currently under appeal to the Labour Court.

In May this year, Intel’s motion to strike out the Ms Cunningham’s personal injury proceedings for abuse of process and/or duplication of her discrimination proceedings in the High Court was successful. Judge Hedigan outlined that Ms Cunningham had attempted to draw an artificial distinction between her Equality Tribunal complaint and her personal injury proceedings.  However, as the claims sprang from the same set of issues, this breached section 101(2)(a) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2008, which precludes bringing separate proceedings where an individual has already referred a case via the employment equality process. The proceedings were also in breach of the rule in Henderson v Henderson which states that all matters arising from the same set of facts must be litigated in the one set of proceedings save in special circumstances.

The decision is a welcome result for employers at risk of facing multiple proceedings in different bodies that arise out of the same issues.

To view the judgment click here.