INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr McGrath
Employer Member: Mr Brennan
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Alleged unfair dismissal.
2. The dispute concerns one worker who was employed with the Company, a video arcade, in the capacity of administration assistant, at the time of her dismissal. She had been with the Company for approximately four and a half months prior to her dismissal, which arose due to an alleged shortfall of cash of £85 during the course of her shift. The worker claims that she had no involvement in the disappearance of the money and that others had access to the office where the money was kept. She is seeking to have her name cleared and to be compensated for the upset and distress caused to her. The worker referred the matter to the Labour Court, on the 26th of February, 1997, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court carried out its investigation on the 20th of May, 1997.
3. 1. When the worker checked the money on the Saturday night in question there was, in fact, an excess amount of £1.80. She advised her supervisor of this and, having lodged the money in the safe, did not go to the safe subsequently.
2. When confronting the supervisor about the missing money, subsequently, the worker was told that she was not being accused of stealing it, only that it had gone missing when she was on her shift. During the period in question, at least 3 employees had access to the office where the money went missing (details supplied to the Court).
3. The Company claim that the worker resigned voluntarily when confronted is rejected. She had no reason to resign. She did not receive any letter from the Company concerning "her resignation".
4. A previous alleged incident of gross misconduct which the Company claims led to a warning for the worker related to an occasion when her boyfriend was present when she was on duty. She had actually finished her counting of cash when he was present and does not recall having been given any warning relating to the incident.
4. 1. The worker could not provide any explanation for the shortfall of money which occurred on her shift. At the time she was on a final written warning for gross misconduct concerning a financial matter (details supplied).
2. When offered the opportunity to resign her position she responded in the affirmative. Subsequently, a letter was forwarded to her accepting her resignation and including a final pay settlement.
3. There has been no variance in money before, or since the worker left the organisation, except recently when a case of theft came to light following the introduction of covert cameras and store police.
4. The worker had received previous warnings regarding her actions regarding her breaks, her time-keeping and leaving her post.
The Court finds that there is a duty on an employer to act fairly towards an employee when contemplating a dismissal. To discharge this responsibility, the employer has a duty to take all reasonable steps to investigate the allegation and to assess the information upon which the decision will be made. In doing so he is required by natural justice to acquaint the employee of an allegation and the nature of the allegation and to give the employee the right to defend himself/herself.
It is the view of the Court in this case that the employer did not carry out a full and detailed investigation of the case and did not advise the employee of the allegation or give her a reasonable opportunity to defend herself or to maintain her reputation.
Furthermore, it became clear at the Court hearing that procedures did not exist at the time, within the organisation, that would allow for any basic or reliable investigation to take place, though it appears some changes in procedures have been introduced since this incident.
The Court, accordingly, finds that the dismissal of the claimant was unfair and that she should be compensated in the amount of £1,250.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th of June, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.