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Dead rat stench and mice on desks: Woman gets €20k over rodents at work

Amanda Byrne said she had a life-long phobia and was petrified to go to work in case a rat or mouse crossed her path.

A WOMAN HAS been awarded €20,000 from the Labour Court after she said she was subject to to discriminatory treatment, discriminatory dismissal and harassing treatment after she voiced her concerns about rodents in her workplace.

Amanda Byrne took a case against her former employers Sea and Shore Safety Services Ltd in Dublin, following a dispute over the firm’s failure to deal adequately with a rodent problem at its Carrickmines premises.


Byrne stated that in May 2008 she saw a mouse in the office and explained to her employers that she had a phobia of mice and rats. Mouse traps were installed on the premises to deal with the issue.

However, a number of days later Byrne said she saw a mouse on the desk in front of her. Another time, she saw a mouse stroll along the photocopier and go under a chest of drawers.

Due to her phobia, she told her boss that she had to leave the office and would not be able to return until the rodent problem was resolved.

In June, she said in a letter to her employers that rats had been an ongoing problem on the premises over the last year. She said there were “no go” areas for her where she was petrified to go, such as the front gate, the bin and the shed.

“I can’t cope when they are looking at me from my desk and I’m jumpy in case I walk on a rat or one falls out of a tree,” she said.

She said that the she had Rentokil out to survey the problem and had also looked into getting a sonar device shipped in from overseas.

Absent from work

In June 2008, she told her employers that she was completely unhappy, stressed and nervous about coming into my workplace because of rodents. She said the mousetraps had not solved the problem.

Byrne added that on one occasion her employer “reared up” at her over the issue and her other boss “freaked out” when she asked her to accompany her to the bin “for moral support against rats”.

After that she said her work started to be affected and she went to the doctor for stress.

Byrne said that she had a right to a safe working environment, or at the very least she expected the “office to be free of rodents”.

Her employers responded by saying that they would take steps to resolve the issue but said they “regret that there is absolutely no way that we can give you a guarantee that you will never see a rodent again on the premises. All we can do is take every appropriate step to deter them”.

She was absent from work from 3 June 2008 until 7 August 2008 on certified sick leave, citing stress-related symptoms.


Byrne then returned to work but the issue was not resolved for her and she kept an incident log of rodent sightings, reporting she was seeing rats at an increasing rate around the property, on one occasion nearly stepping on a large rat outside her office in July 2010.

On one occasion she said she became “hysterical” when she saw one outside her office and wrote again to her employer as a matter of urgency.

In August, she said there was a “strong smell of dead rodents” due to poison that had been laid to deal with the infestation.

She said her employers were “entirely unsympathetic” and shouted at her and told her to open a window, when she voiced her concern. He said that the smell was caused as a result of laying poison for “her little friends”, she said. She said found the situation unmanageable and unacceptable. She could not cope with the conditions and went off work until the problem was resolved.


Byrne left work and never returned and the firm made her redundant the following month due to what it stated were its deteriorating finances.

She said she had a very good working relationship with the company until the rodent problem started to emerge. Her employer said that in retrospect the company did not do enough to accommodate her in regards to her phobia.

The Labour Court has now found that Byrne’s complaints in relation to victimisation, harassment and dismissal were well-founded and ordered the payment of the €20,000 by the firm.

Debunked: Is a rat never more than a few metres away?>

Read: Plane damaged on Dublin Airport runway was carrying… rats and mice>

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