We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

File image Alamy Stock Photo
Naeem Maniar

Ex-legal secretary for former Iceland owner awarded €77k over 'intolerable' contract breach

The decision was made by the Workplace Relations Commission.

NAEEM MANIAR, WHO owned Iceland’s franchise before its collapse last year, has been told by a tribunal to pay his former legal secretary €77,000 over her experiences working for the retail boss.

According to a decision handed down by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Maniar’s treatment of Sarah Treacy in the months before her departure from his company was “sufficiently intolerable” as to constitute a “significant breach” of her contract.

Treacy, who worked from August 2019 until November 2021 as the head of legal for Maniar’s retail company Centz Holdings Ltd, had alleged she had been constructively dismissed and that she was paid €17,500 to €27,500 less than a male colleague who was doing similar work.

During a dramatic hearing last September, Maniar had been accused by the WRC adjudication officer Breffni O’Neill of presenting “documentation which sought to pull the wool over the eyes” of the tribunal.

O’Neill had said that a “highly detailed” chart was presented by Maniar during an earlier hearing attempting to demonstrate that a male solicitor for the company was earning less than what that same solicitor had told the WRC he was earning during sworn evidence.

In complaints under the Employment Equality Act 1998 at the WRC in Dublin, Treacy accused Centz Retail Holdings Ltd of discriminating against her by paying her less than a male colleague and failing to provide reasonable accommodation after she disclosed a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

In further statutory claims, Treacy alleged penalisation over making a discrimination complaint as well as the non-payment of wages. She also alleged constructive dismissal as she felt she had no choice but to resign.

The retail group employs 900 people across a range of discount stores, cash and carry outlets and cafes.


The commission heard that Tracey had been hired to carry out legal work having worked with Maniar previously.

Representation for Centz Retail Holdings had maintained that the company “bent over backwards” for Treacy, giving her pay rises and that Maniar himself had given her a loan to help a family member.

However, Treacy alleged to the WRC that she was subjected to a “litany of highly insulting and derogatory emails” concerning her performance from Maniar on the back of her expressing reservations about signing her name to legal proceedings which accused a defendant of fraud.

Following this, Treacy alleged that her performance at work was “repeatedly” described as a cause for concern. She eventually submitted a grievance in October 2021 over this matter.

She also said that she had sought alternative working arrangements to work from home occasionally following a diagnosis for ADHD – but alleged this did not happen.


O’Neill ruled that Treacy would be awarded €76,984 for the various breaches from her employment.

The largest of these was the €55,000 he has directed Centz Holdings to pay Treacy for the company’s “failure to pay her at least the same” as her male colleague.

This award also recognised the “emotional distress” experienced by Treacy as a consequence, including the impacts of initiating the legal proceedings against her former employer.

Having found that she was constructively dismissed, O’Neill awarded €15,000 and a further €5,000 in respect of the “discriminatory treatment” over the failure to accommodate her disability.

The remainder of the almost €77,000 award arose from an underpayment of wages of €1,695.55 and an underpayment of one day’s holiday pay of €288.46.

Maniar’s appearance

Maniar, who is also a director of the Homesavers franchise in Ireland, was criticised during last September’s final hearing for not appearing in person, despite having been due to speak again at the tribunal.

His company’s solicitor Ian McKenna told the WRC this was due to the “fast-paced” nature of his business.

But Maniar was criticised by Treacy’s barrister Darach MacNamara, who said that Centz Retail Holdings was “a well-resourced company” employing 900 people across its operations, but which had sought “to kick the can down the road and not to deal with direct evidence” arising from the case.

Following the allegations last September, O’Neill interjected to say that he had heard “unbelievable” claims throughout the afternoon hearing at the WRC offices in Ballsbridge in Dublin.

Iceland closure

Last summer, the discount retailer Iceland closed its final stores in Ireland following a standoff between the franchise owner, staff and landlords around its more than 20 stores here.

Project Point Technologies, a separate company to Centz Retail Holdings but also owned by Maniar, bought the Ireland franchise last February and quickly ran into problems.

It resulted in a major recall of almost all of its frozen meat and the appointment of an examiner by the High Court before the franchise’s collapse.