EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
CLAIM OF: CASE NO.
Mark Murphy UD913/2013
Air Contractors (Ireland) Limited
UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS, 1977 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Mr. D. Mac Carthy S C
Members: Mr. P. Pierce
Mr. S. O'Donnell
heard this claim at Dublin on 10th September 2014.
Claimant: Ms Jennifer White BL instructed by Keith Flynn Solicitor
605 The Capel Building, Marys Abbey, Dublin 7
Respondent: Mr. David Farrell, IBEC, Confederation House,
84/86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
The claimant was dismissed after he admitted that he had bought a vacuum cleaner from one of the company’s suppliers in the course of business, but the vacuum cleaner was for his own use, and he did not pay his employer for it nor did he tell the accounts office or the management until a year later.
It seems that some other employee made an allegation against the claimant, who was not aware of the specific allegation. The claimant had approached his manager to say that untrue allegations were being made against him. The manager was already aware in general terms that allegations were being made, but did not know the specifics. A few days later the claimant again approached the manager and admitted buying the vacuum cleaner. Having heard both witnesses the Tribunal finds that the claimant did not at any stage deny that he bought the vacuum cleaner.
In evidence the claimant said that he had intended repaying the money, but the member of the accounts staff whom he knew was out on sick leave. He also gave evidence of family problems and health issues. Counsel for the claimant argued that he had an excellent record before this event and that he was trusted by the company.
Section 6 (1) of the 1977 Act provides:
“Subject to the provisions of this section, the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be an unfair dismissal unless, having regard to all the circumstances, there were substantial grounds justifying the dismissal.”
The words “substantial grounds justifying the dismissal” have two meanings, firstly they must be matters of substance rather than form and secondly the matters involved must be sufficiently big to justify the sanction. Substantial means big or large, and must be proportionate to the sanction of dismissal.
In the Tribunal’s view trust is central to the case. The claimant’s functions included making purchases on behalf of the company, and he would spend millions of euro every year. He, therefore, held a position of high trust, and his action was a breach of trust, so fundamental as to amount to a substantial ground justifying dismissal.
The Tribunal is satisfied that the action of dismissal was not disproportionate, and the claim under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 2007 fails.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal