By Gordon Deegan
A bus driver had no choice but to resign from his post over the “total lack of support" from his employer after being allegedly punched, kicked and spat at by a restaurant owner on his route.
The incident took place at a bus stop in June 2016 where it is also alleged that the restaurant owner, 'Mr A' threatened to kill the bus driver. Eight months later, the same restaurant owner is alleged to have assaulted the bus driver at the same bus stop.
The bus driver made a complaint to gardaí over the alleged June 2016 assault, however, there was no CCTV footage of the alleged assault and the gardaí could not proceed with an investigation as customers did not wish to give statements.
The man resigned his post on January 16, 2017, over what his GP in a letter describes as “total lack of support from the company” and the impact on the bus driver’s health.
The man sued for unfair dismissal claiming that he had been constructively dismissed and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered the bus company to pay the driver €8,667 after finding that the bus driver’s complaint under the Unfair Dismissal Acts was well founded.
In her findings after three days of evidence, WRC Adjudication Officer Louise Boyle stated that she found it “extraordinary that despite numerous complaints made against 'Mr A'” there was no specific action taken by the bus company with regards to removing the risks associated with 'Mr A'.
A colleague of the bus driver told the WRC hearing that he raised the issue of the behaviour of 'Mr A' with his manager and asked what should employees do when stopping outside Mr A’s restaurant but the only advice that was given to him was to turn off his engine.
That driver alleged to the WRC that 'Mr A' had also attempted to engage in aggressive behaviour to him.
After the June 10, 2016, alleged assault, the bus driver was certified sick by his doctor from June 11 to July 20.
The hearing was told that on July 16, 2016, another driver was allegedly threatened by 'Mr A'.
When the bus driver taking the unfair dismissal action returned to work in July 2016, he told his bosses that he could no longer work the route where he was allegedly assaulted as “he felt too traumatised”.
The bus driver stated that he was accommodated for ten days but was then asked to work the route once more.
The bus driver refused and he said that he was offered little if any alternatives.
The bus company refuted the man’s claims and said that the driver’s statement to gardaí had detailed "there was blood on my arm and shirt...but it wasn't mine" which they believed suggested he had deviated from procedure and had not defused the situation as would have been expected of their drivers.
In her findings, Ms Boyle stated that she noted that others had altercations with Mr A including a customer.
Finding in favour of the bus driver, Ms Boyle stated that she preferred the evidence of the driver and this was mainly due to his employer continuing to offer him the same route and doing nothing when he refused it because of the risks associated with Mr A on that route.
Ms Boyle stated: “I find that the behaviour of the respondent and his inaction repudiated the contract of employment such that the complainant was left with no alternative but to terminate his employment and thus his complaint succeeds.”