An engineer, who was fired for wearing gloves near a machine on the factory floor, has been awarded €32,000.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled Sebastain Bobrecki was unfairly dismissed by Carlow engineering firm, Autolaunch Ltd, in October 2014. Mr Bobrecki was sacked after a co-worker reported that he was wearing gloves in close proximity to a metal milling machine.
The Polish man wearing the gloves was in contravention of a strict company ban on the wearing of gloves by any workers near moving machinery parts.
A year prior, a colleague, in a serious accident, lost the top of his finger when a rotating part of one of the machines caught on his glove and pulled his hand into the machine.
After hearing evidence in the case over three days in Carlow, the tribunal stated that it acknowledged that the need to obey the glove ban was heightened and intensified by the serious nature of the October 2013 ‘finger’ injury.
Autolaunch employs 300 people and Mr Bobrecki worked for the firm for six years before his dismissal.
The worker who witnessed Mr Bobrecki wearing the gloves told the hearing that he observed Mr Bobrecki wearing gloves and wiping an area of the panel close to the moving spindle.
The worker told the hearing “that what he saw was extremely dangerous and totally contrary to all training, notification, and instruction heretofore given to Mr Bobrecki and all the workforce”.
Mr Bobrecki, who had a good record, was suspended and subsequently dismissed.
Mr Bobrecki explained that he wore gloves as he was changing the oil container as it is odorous and unpleasant.
The tribunal found such a fundamentally flawed process of investigation and discipline that the claimant must succeed under the Unfair Dismissals Acts and awarded Mr Bobrecki €32,000.
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