A Tipperary car dealer has been ordered to pay a former mechanic €22,000 after a ruling that he was constructively dismissed from his job.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal found that it was reasonable that mechanic, Edward Fahy, terminated his employment with Denis Kinane Motors, a Honda dealer based in Thurles, after he was accused of stealing a piece of equipment.
The EAT said the allegation of the unlawful taking of a voltage meter from the company’s premises had been unsubstantiated.
The tribunal heard that Mr Fahy had previously left his job on a number of occasions but had always returned after a few days.
However, on August 20, 2014, the pair had a row after Mr Fahy made a mistake while repairing a car which resulted in him terminating his employment claiming he could not “take it anymore”.
The company’s owner, Denis Kinane, denied that he had called him “a waste of space” as claimed by Mr Fahy but admitted he had given out to his employee.
In evidence Mr Fahy, who worked at the dealership since 2007, said it was hard to satisfy Mr Kinane, and he found it difficult to work for him.
Mr Kinane said Mr Fahy’s work performance was generally fine but he needed careful watching.
Mr Fahy claimed he was called a thief after he returned to the premises following the row to clear up the matter — an allegation denied by Mr Kinane.
The businessman said he had known that a voltage meter which Mr Fahy had shown him in the boot of his car in July 2014 belonged to the company, despite the mechanic’s claims his uncle found it when he was cleaning out a garage in England.
Mr Fahy denied the incident took place as described by his former employer and insisted he bought the tool in Thurles for €25.
Mr Kinane considered the piece of equipment an heirloom as it was the first machine he had purchased when he started his company and it had gone missing from the premises.
He had not raised the issue at the time with Mr Fahy as he believed he would return the meter because of their good relationship.
Mr Kinane also denied telling Mr Fahy’s father that his son was a thief. He explained he was shocked at the mechanic’s leaving as he had nobody in his workshop and had to close it for a week.
EAT chairwoman, Kate T O’Mahony said it was clear the issue of the voltage meter became the deciding issue as to whether Mr Fahy returned to his job. She said whether the word “thief” had been used or not the imputation from words used was that Mr Fahy had taken the equipment. Ms O’Mahony said even if the Tribunal believed Mr Kinane’s version of events his failure to investigate or discuss the issue was fatal to his case.
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