INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Appeal by the worker against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. RC170/97.
2. The worker concerned commenced employment with the Company as a Sales Assistant in September, 1996. She was on six months' probation. The worker was dismissed on the 23rd of February, 1997 following two incidents relating to the purchase of goods in the store, where correct procedure was not adhered to. (Details supplied to the Court). The worker claimed that she was unfairly dismissed. The Company rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On the 8th of July, 1997 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:-
"I am satisfied that the worker's approach to in house purchases may have been, to say the least of it, laid-back and certainly was not, in compliance with the Company's required procedures but if that was the extent of her misdemeanour, she could clearly have been dealt with by way of a final warning, as provided for in the Company's Staff Manual..............
............Consequently, as a settlement of the claim I recommend that TJC Limited (Tommy's Wonderland) pay the worker an ex-gratia lump sum of £600, which (exclusive of the week's pay in lieu of notice) broadly approximates to the nett payment she would have enjoyed for the residue of her probationary period."
(The worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's recommendation).
On the 24th of July, 1997 the worker appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal on the 17th of November, 1997.
3. 1. When the worker reported for duty on the 23rd of February, 1997 she was summoned to a meeting with Management and interrogated about her purchase of a cigarette lighter on the 19th of February, 1997. The worker stated it was bought, paid for, and she produced a receipt to prove this. The worker acknowledged the receipt was not signed by a Manager. However, the Assistant Manager was on duty, standing beside the worker. The worker felt that it was acceptable to make a purchase in her presence. There was another purchase of a similar nature on Friday, 21st of February.
2. The Manager informed the worker that he needed "people he could trust" and would give the worker a week's notice. She declined to work the week's notice. The worker left the premises traumatised and was escorted out by a security officer in full view of all the staff.
3. The worker did not receive a reference for some months, was debarred from obtaining Social Welfare entitlements for a time and experienced difficulties in obtaining other employment.
4. The worker had been employed in various companies in the retail business and had an excellent record. She felt that she was treated in a most unjust and unfair manner and was of the opinion the Company arbitrarily dismissed her without adherence to fair procedures. She seeks appropriate redress.
4. 1. While the worker produced a receipt for the lighter she acknowledged that she had not entered it in the staff purchase book in accordance with the Company procedure.
2. The Company disputes the worker's claim that any of her purchases were witnessed by a supervisor.
3. There is no record of the worker requesting a reference from any employee of the Company, and it was supplied immediately it was mentioned at the Rights Commissioner's hearing.
4. The Company at the interview on the 23rd of February, neither intimidated, shouted at the worker or traumatised her in any way. The Company understands she is in regular full-time employment with a major retailer since the summer.
5. The Company treated the worker in a fair and reasonable manner. It was within its rights to dismiss the employee within the probationary period as she was considered unsuitable.
6. The Company feels that the Rights Commissioner's recommendation more than adequately rewarded the worker. However, the Company is prepared to accept the recommendation.
Having considered the submissions of the parties, the Court is satisfied that no reasonable basis existed on which the Company could have concluded that the claimant was guilty of misconduct such as would justify dismissal. The Court is, however, satisfied that the level of compensation recommended by the Rights Commissioner is adequate as it approximates to the claimant's loss of earnings up to the time at which her probationary period would have ended. (The Court notes the Company's assurance that it is prepared to pay the claimant the amount so recommended).
In these circumstances the Court sees no reason to interfere with the Rights Commissioner's recommendation. The appeal is therefore dismissed and the recommendation affirmed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th November, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.