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Pharma executive challenges firm’s disciplinary process over allegations of unwanted sexual advances towards female colleague at Christmas party


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Sean Brennan, a senior vice-president and global head of product quality and surveillance at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, strongly rejects all of the allegations against him.

Mr Brennan is the subject of an internal disciplinary process over allegations including that he harassed a female colleague in the aftermath of the firm’s Christmas party at a Dublin hotel last December.

He claims he was investigated by his employer following allegations that on the night of the Christmas party, he engaged in inappropriate touching of a junior female colleague.

It is also alleged that he made unwanted sexual advances towards her, firstly at a private hotel room and later at an informal after-party at another private hotel room, when the party had ended.

In the days after the alleged incidents, Mr Brennan claims, an internal investigation was commenced by the defendant.

Mr Brennan, of Aubrey Manor, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, claims that process is flawed on several grounds, including that he was refused the opportunity to cross-examine his accuser and other witnesses who provided evidence against him.

A final report by the investigators was provided to Mr Brennan. It concluded that he had behaved in an ­inappropriate manner, which he claims amounts to a finding that he had engaged in harassment.

Mr Brennan denies those claims and says the investigators have acted outside of their jurisdiction in making findings against him, and that the report appears to be an attempt to influence the disciplinary panel.

The investigators had no right to make findings of fact against him, and findings should be made independently of the investigators, he claims. The events complained of took place at a location not paid for by the employer and was not at a work-social event, he says.

Mr Brennan says the findings against him by the investigators are demonstrably unfair, patently illogical, unreasonable and contrary to common sense.

He claims that arising out of the findings contained in the investigation report, he is due before a disciplinary panel on Friday, May 3, which will decide on what action, if any, to take if he is found to have breached his employer’s code of conduct.

Mr Brennan has been warned that he may be dismissed from his employment.

Represented by Ian FitzHarris BL and Mark Harty SC, Mr Brennan claims the investigation into the allegations has been at all times in fundamental and serious breach of fair procedures, constitutional and natural justice.

He fears that any finding against him will have an adverse impact on his reputation. He has never been the subject of a disciplinary process before, he says.

Mr Brennan has worked for the company since 2010.

Following a direction from his employer last December, he has been working from home. The court heard that in correspondence, the employer denies any impropriety or unfairness has occurred in the probe.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Mark Sanfey granted Mr Brennan, on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis, a ­temporary injunction restraining the company from continuing with the disciplinary process.

The judge, who noted a lot of work appeared to have been put into the process by the defendant, said that he expected the employer to robustly defend the process when the matter returns before the court.

However, he was satisfied that the plaintiff’s claim that the process is flawed is arguable, and given the serious consequences for Mr Brennan’s employment, was satisfied to grant a temporary injunction.

The matter was adjourned for a week.

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