€15k for care assistant over dismissal

A former care assistant at a Limerick facility for the elderly has been awarded €15,000 for unfair dismis sal after an Employment Appeals Tribunal found there was insufficient evidence that she had struck two residents there.

Denise Tchakounte was employed at the Park Nursing Home in Castletroy from 2009. According to Mowlam Healthcare Ltd which operates the facility, a colleague complained to a manager (JS) on December 28, 2012, that she had witnessed the care assistant striking the two residents.

According to the tribunal’s report on the hearing, the home told it “JS called the claimant to the office and placed her on paid suspension pending investigation”.

The home said on January 3, 2013, Ms Tchakounte attended an investigation meeting conducted by JS and the operations manager after which she was referred onwards to a disciplinary meeting scheduled for January 7.

The tribunal was told that, during the investigation and disciplinary meeting, which were both conducted by JS and the operations manager, the claimant said she did not remember striking the residents but also said that she did not do it.

“JS found this confusing and on the balance of probabilities decided that the claimant was guilty of gross misconduct and found she had no alternative but to dismiss the claimant,” the tribunal report of the hearing said.

In her evidence, Ms Tchakounte denied striking any of the residents. She said she blocked a person who tried to kick her but denied pushing him. She said she denied the allegations put to her during the investigation and disciplinary meetings but that she also said she did not remember because she felt under pressure at the time.

“It was the claimant’s position that she was not given an opportunity to properly address the allegations made against her and that the procedures followed in reaching the decision to dismiss her were flawed and unfair,” the tribunal’s report on the hearing said.

The tribunal found that Ms Tchakounte was unfairly dismissed and awarded her €15,000.


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