An assistant at a Cork nursing home who was accused of elder abuse and subsequently fired has won her case for unfair dismissal and has been awarded €7,000.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal was told that Bridhaven Nursing Home in Mallow, Co Cork, was obliged to have a zero-tolerance policy in respect of any staff conduct judged to fall within the definition of elder abuse.
The nursing home called a number of witnesses to the tribunal hearing in Cork in September to show “substantial grounds” to justify the dismissal of Dora Szabo on the grounds of elder abuse.
Ms Szabo admitted that she had responded in kind to an elderly resident who had verbally abused her when she told him that she would not give him a requested fourth bowl of sugar.
She said she had judged that a fourth bowl would not be good for the resident and she added that, when insulting her, he had referred to her as a man.
Ms Szabo told the tribunal of “particularly sad circumstances” which had imp-acted upon her personal life at the time, to such an extent that she might have been much better advised not to attend work at all on the day in question.
In its finding just published, the tribunal ruled that the dismissal was a disproportionate sanction.
“There was no doubt but that the situation which had prevailed was fraught, and the manner in which the claimant [Ms Szabo] dealt with same was less than ideal,” it wrote. “The tribunal however, is not satisfied that the incident constituted gross misconduct, or that it should have been regarded as elder abuse.”
Allowing her claim for unfair dismissal, the tribunal awarded Ms Szabo compensation of €7,000.
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