Chef sacked over ‘quality of sandwich made for owner’

Ashdown Park Hotel, Gorey: The hotel was ordered to pay chef Mauro Panico €14,600 after the Employment Appeals Tribunal found he had been unfairly dismissed.

A chef was sacked from a four-star hotel over the quality of a sandwich he prepared for one of the hotel’s owners and having chicken supremes at the wrong temperature on the same day.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ordered the Ashdown Park Hotel Ltd to pay Mauro Panico €14,600 after finding that he was unfairly dismissed.

The four-star hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford is owned by builders and brothers, Thomas and Patrick Redmond where the most recent accounts for 2013 show that the business was being supported by directors’ loans to the tune of more than €2.2m.

Now, in the EAT case, the tribunal has found that the complete absence of any meaningful disciplinary procedure and the denial of basic rights to Mr Panico “are unjustifiable”.

The EAT stated that, in the absence of a proper investigation and enquiry into the matter at the time, it found that the hotel firm is unable to satisfy the tribunal that the dismissal of Mr Panico was merited.

Mr Panico started working for the hotel in 2008 and his employment was uneventful before the sandwich and chicken incident on the same date on November 14, 2012.

Mr Panico told the EAT he was dismissed over a sandwich he prepared for the hotel’s owner.

He said that when he met the food purchasing manager the following week, he was again told that he was dismissed due to the issue over the sandwich he made for the owner.

Mr Panico said that when he raised the unfairness of this he was then informed there was also a food safety issue with chicken but Mr Panico did not believe what he was being told.

Mr Panico told the tribunal that the kitchen was short-staffed the day the sandwich was prepared for the hotel’s owner.

However, this was refuted by the food purchasing manager. In his evidence, the manager, referred to as Mr F, said the reasons for dismissal were twofold, the preparation of the sandwich and the more serious issue of the preparation of chicken supremes.

On November 14, 2012, Mr F observed the chicken supremes submerged in water and was concerned at the temperature reading he obtained.

Mr F gave evidence as to the potential impact to customers and to the hotel’s business and that he believed this issue warranted summary dismissal.

He said on the same date, one of the hotel’s owners complained to him about the quality of a sandwich prepared by Mr Panico.

Mr F told the EAT that this issue alone however would not have warranted the dismissal of Mr Panico. He said that the issue with the chicken supremes was the more serious issue.

The EAT found that “there was no disciplinary process whatsoever

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