A manager at a piped gas system firm who was sacked after allegedly falsifying timesheets has been awarded €25,000 for his unfair dismissal.
In the case before the Labour Court, the court has ordered Medical & Industrial Pipeline Systems Ltd to pay David Dunne €25,000 for his procedurally unfair dismissal in April 2016.
In its conclusions, the Labour Court stated after reviewing all of the evidence it is evident that Mr Dunne did falsify timesheets and as admitted by him, “he over-claimed for hours he purported to work”.
The court found that in the circumstances it was reasonable for the firm “to treat the falsification of records as being a very serious action” by Mr Dunne, warranting dismissal for gross misconduct because the bond of trust between employee and employer had broken down.
In making the award, the Labour Court stated that it satisfied that Mr Dunne by his conduct, contributed to a significant degree to his dismissal and this has been taken into account in measuring the quantum of compensation.
The court, however, found that the Dunslaughlin-registered firm didn’t follow proper procedures in dismissing Mr Dunne - employed at the firm since 1984 - and as a result has made the award and unfair dismissal ruling.
Concerning the lapse in proper procedures, the Court found that Mr Dunne did not receive sufficient prior notification of an investigatory meeting to enable him to prepare properly for it.
The Labour Court also found that the firm to be in breach of fair procedures when it allowed one particular representative to take part in both the investigatory and disciplinary meetings.
The case was before the Labour Court after Mr Dunne appealed against a decision by a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer to award him €4,225 for his unfair dismissal.
Mr Dunne’s wife died in 2014 and the discrepancies on Mr Dunne’s timesheets came to light in December 2015 after he asked the firm to check his timesheets as he believed that he was owed time in lieu.
However, upon checking, the firm noticed that they did not correspond with his receipts and tolls and reviewed the tracker device on his vehicle and discovered numerous inconsistencies.
At the Labour Court hearing, it was put to Mr Dunne that he falsified records - that he was attending clients when it was clear from the tracker device that he was elsewhere.
In response, Mr Dunne told the Court that he would often go to his wife’s grave and sit there.
He said this helped him deal with his grief and that he would ring the clients he was due to visit that day and explain that he could not attend as he was not up to it.
At the hearing, Mr Dunne denied that he had falsified records and did not accept that he had been paid for work not done or that he had endangered the firm’s business.
In its findings, the Labour Court found that clients were charged for the visits which never happened and furthermore, there were potential risks when the service was not carried out.
The court stated that “regardless of whatever flexibility arrangement was in place following his wife’s passing, it is clear to the court that he had no right to falsify records and claim that he worked hours that he did not.
In such circumstances, the Court cannot accept that the reason given by the Complainant excuse his actions”.