INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
AILLWEE CAVE COMPANY LIMITED
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY JAMES C. SHANNON & ASSOCIATES, SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal by both parties against the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. 521/96.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who commenced employment with the Company in March, 1996 as a 'greeter meeting visitors to the cave and imparting general information. In June, 1996 a vacancy arose for a chef in the 'Potato Bar Restaurant' and the worker, although not qualified, took up this duty with the agreement of Management. Subsequently difficulties arose in relation to food items, which were removed from the kitchen without permission. The Company claimed that the worker misappropriated a container of meat and he was dismissed on the 2nd of September, 1996. The worker claimed that his dismissal was unfair. The Company rejected the claim The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 9th of May, 1997 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:-
"In the circumstances, I recommend that Aillwee Cave Company Limited should pay the worker a sum of £750 in full and final resolution of this dispute."
(The worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation).
Subsequently both parties appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal in Galway on the 13th of November, 1997.
3. 1. The worker concerned categorically denies that he stole food, which was company property. He ran the 'Potato Bar Restaurant' and had an agreement with Management to take home small quantities of food in order to try out new recipes and thereby improve business. As a result of his efforts, business increased significantly.
2. Because of the increase in business friction developed between 'Potato Bar' staff and Tea-room staff. It centred around the fact that the Potato Bar Restaurant was generating more work for Tea-room kitchen staff and they did not have enough time to fulfil both duties. The worker did his utmost to resolve this issue without success. The worker was of the opinion that the Tea-room manager resented his success and felt threatened in her position.
3. On arriving for duty on the 2nd of September the worker was confronted by Management and accused of stealing a container of meat. He vehemently rejected the accusation and, despite his logical explanations and offer to return the container of meat, the worker was arbitrarily and instantly dismissed.
4. The dismissal had a very traumatic effect on the worker and his family. He was unable to obtain employment locally and had to leave the area. The worker subsequently obtained employment in another location. He feels that his integrity, good name and character have been damaged. The whole incident has caused the worker and his family deep upset, distress and anxiety. The worker seeks appropriate redress.
4. 1. The kitchen staff, on numerous occasions, reported to their supervisor that items of food were being removed form the 'Potato Bar' storeroom. Subsequently a warning was issued to all staff and a notice was placed on the notice board in relation to this issue (details to the Court).
2. On a number of occasions it was also pointed out to the claimant that all drinks taken from the Tea-rooms had to be paid for.
3. On the 2nd of September, the Tea-room supervisor was informed by staff that the claimant had taken home a container of pork. On enquiring about the absence of the pork from the premises the claimant stated that it was in the refrigerator at his home.
4. The claimant could not give a satisfactory explanation to Management regarding the removal of the container of meat form the Company's premises. The Company decided to dismiss him.
5. The container of meat was not returned to the Company despite the worker's claim that it was at his home and could be returned at any time.
6. The Company contends that the container of meat was stolen from its premises. It is relevant that, since the claimant's dismissal, receipts have increased significantly.
Following the submissions made to it, the Court is satisfied that the procedures covering employment grievances and dismissal in the Company were not carried out in accordance with good employment practice. It is, in particular, satisfied that the dismissal of the claimant was carried out in an unfair manner.
The Court therefore upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and dismisses the appeal of the Company.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th November, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.