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Deirdre Crowley is a partner in the Technology and Innovation, and Employment Groups in Matheson.

Deirdre advises public and private sector clients on a host of privacy, data protection, employment, equality and industrial relations matters. 

A regular conference speaker invitee, Deirdre has recently spoken at the Legal Island Annual Reviews of Employment Law, the Irish Institute of European Laws Annual Data Protection Day and is invited by organisations such as the Law Society of Ireland and the International Association of Privacy Practitioners as well as Legal Island for keynote conferences in 2020. 

In addition to her day to day work and public speaking engagements, Deirdre frequently writes articles on employment, privacy and data protection issues on behalf of Legal Island.

Experience Highlights

Data Protection and Privacy

Deirdre advises EEA and non-EEA based controllers and processors in relation to the full spectrum of data protection and privacy compliance issues.  Deirdre’s day to day work includes advices on data security breaches, data subject access requests, the drafting of data processing agreements, international transfer of data agreements and commercial agreements designed to best protect clients when they engage in the business of processing personal and / or special category data.

Deirdre has specific experience in advising businesses that have a high risk data processing rating in relation to complex and urgent data breach scenarios.  A particular focus of Deirdre’s practice in the last 24 months is on advising clients on how best to approach dealing with regulatory investigations on behalf of the Data Protection Commission in the aftermath of a reportable data security breach. 

On the data subject access request side, Deirdre works with our Digital Services Group headed by Tom Connor to assist businesses to quickly, efficiently and cost effectively identify in scope data for the purposes of replying to data subject access requests.

Data audits for compliance and due diligence purposes are a routine part of Deirdre’s work.  Focused and practical know-how on the issues of processor / controller / joint controller capacity tests, data mapping, Privacy Officer versus Data Protection Officer considerations, policy and employee contract drafting, the use of CCTV and other monitoring devices in the workplace as well as drafting data protection impact assessments and privacy impact assessments are also frequent topics of advice in Deirdre’s practice.

E-Privacy and eCommerce for the retail, medical, technology and manufacturing sectors is a particular area of expertise and interest of Deirdre’s. 

Employment Law

Deirdre advises on all aspects of the employment relationship from recruitment and selection, through to termination of employment. 

In November 2019, Deirdre delivered a paper on “Investigations, Disciplinary Processes and Fair Procedure:  Where exactly are we now?”  

Advices on dealing with complex conduct and performance issues in the context of investigations, disciplinary and appeal processes are a mainstay of Deirdre’s practice.

Recent areas of experience highlights include:

  • the appropriate use of technology in the workplace including CCTV and other monitoring devices, associated data subject access requests and investigations by the Data Protection Commission;
  • advices on the areas of age and gender discrimination to include sexual harassment;
  • harassment simpliciter and bullying and harassment;
  • protective leave, work-life balance issues;
  • gender pay gap issues.

Industrial Relations

A robust and experienced advocate, Deirdre frequently appears before the Workplace Relations Commission Adjudicator Service and Labour Court on behalf of clients in respect of all employment, industrial relation and equality issues that fall within their respective jurisdiction.

Deirdre recently advised employers in relation to new sectoral employment orders (“SEO”) in the electrical services and private language colleges sectors and has over many years advised employers on their collective bargaining relationships with both recognised and non-recognised unions. 

Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”) Inspections

WRC inspections are creating a lot of work for public and private sector clients.  Deirdre works with clients to deal swiftly with inspections and where possible to implement compliance solutions to bring inspections to a close. 

Where inspections become contentious, Deidre has advised many companies on how best to deal with compliance notices, dawn raids, labour court hearings and any appeal cases required, with a constant focus on early resolution and cost effective disposal of the issues within the scope of clients legal obligations.

Equality and Equal Status

Deirdre advises on all aspects of Irish and European discrimination law and where relevant equal status law.

Matheson COVID-19 Employer Return-to-Work Survey Results

Sep 8, 2020, 21:33 PM
As businesses turn their attention to reopening their workplaces, we asked 250 in-house counsel and HR professionals who participated in our recent COVID-19: Returning to the Workplace webinar for their perspectives on the reopening of their organisations.
Title : Matheson COVID-19 Employer Return-to-Work Survey Results
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Insight Date : Jun 5, 2020, 12:10 PM
As businesses turn their attention to reopening their workplaces, we asked 250 in-house counsel and HR professionals who participated in our recent COVID-19: Returning to the Workplace webinar for their perspectives on the reopening of their organisations.  Participants came from a wide range of businesses in Ireland across various industries.

In our webinar, we considered the various measures set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol published by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation on 8 May 2020 and the extensive employment law, health and safety and data privacy issues for organisations to take note of.  The results indicate a cautious approach is being taken by organisations in reopening their workplaces. 

The majority of respondents (62%) believe that less than 50% of their workforce will be back in the workplace by October 2020, indicating that for those workplaces where employees can work from home, many employees will be continuing to do so for the next number of months. Only 38% of respondents believe that more than 50% of their workforce will be back in the workplace by October 2020.

The response is in line with the Roadmap to Reopening Business and Society (the “Roadmap”), published by the Irish government on 1 May 2020.  While the Roadmap is subject to review, it gives us a sense, for now, of what the timetable for reopening workplaces will look like if all goes according to plan. Up until phase 5 (currently scheduled for 10 August 2020), organisations are required to maintain remote working for all employees and workers that are in a position to do so. Even in phase 5, the government’s summary of the Roadmap provides for continued remote working for all that can do so. Indeed, many large technology companies have announced that they have extended their work from home policies until 2021.

52% of respondents confirmed that their organisations do intend to carry out temperature testing of employees when employees return to the workplace.  The current advice on temperature testing set out in the Return to Work Safely Protocol (the “Protocol”), published on 8 May 2020, is that employers must implement temperature testing “in line with public health advice”.  Mandatory temperature testing in workplaces is not part of the public health advice issued by the Health Service Executive (“HSE”) in Ireland at this time, with the exception of certain healthcare settings. That is not to say employers cannot implement temperature testing of employees as part of their health and safety protocols. However, before doing so, employers should carefully consider the associated data privacy and employment law issues.

While the vast majority of respondents (80%) said that they do not intend to carry out other forms of COVID-19 testing of employees when employees return to the workplace, 20% of respondents said that they do plan to carry out such testing.  COVID-19 testing will involve a novel type of processing of sensitive employee health data for most organisations and it can present a myriad of issues and associated risks for employers.  Employers must be able to identify a legal basis under Article 6 of the GDPR, and an exemption under Article 9 of the GDPR in order to legally carry out such processing. A data protection impact assessment should be carried out in advance of any such testing to review the probable risks to employees’ data privacy rights and the safeguards in place to mitigate these risks.

Visit our COVID-19 Insights Centre page for further legal updates and insights regarding COVID-19.

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