A manager at a franchised Supermac’s outlet in Limerick lost her senior post after failing to inform her boss of two incidents that cost the firm €2.75.
However, the small company that operates two franchised Supermac’s outlets is now counting the cost of its “harsh sanction” in constructively dismissing its store manager, Linda O’Donoghue, who had 19 years’ service with the firm.
This follows the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ordering Watchford Ltd to pay Ms O’Donoghue €19,000 arising from her successful claim for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act.
The un-named managing director of the Limerick firm relieved Ms O’Donoghue of her store manager role after finding her guilty of gross misconduct in November 2013.
This followed Ms O’Donoghue not informing her boss that a cashier at the company’s Dooradoyle outlet in July 2013 had given a large meal to a customer but only charged for a regular meal resulting in a loss of 75c for the firm.
Ms O’Donoghue was not on duty at the time and was informed of the incident by the duty manager. Ms O’Donoghue then gave the cashier a verbal warning after he told her that the incident was a genuine mistake. The MD of the firm was on holidays at the time.
In the second incident on November 25, 2013, the same cashier gave his niece a free drink worth €2 and the cashier later put the €2 into the till for the drink.
However, when the cashier told the duty manager what he had done, the duty manager took the €2 out of the till and threw it at the cashier saying it was “too late”.
Ms O’Donoghue was not working on that date either but the cashier came in the following day on his day off to tell her what had occurred. The duty manager who told the cashier “too late” was not working on November 26 and Ms O’Donoghue intended to speak to him about the matter.
However, at 4.15pm onNovember 26, the MD called Ms O’Donoghue to his office.
The MD had been told of the two incidents by a duty manager and he wanted to investigate why Ms O’Donoghue had not informed him of the incidents.
According to the EAT, the MD asked Ms O’Donoghue if she was familiar with company policy regarding theft and Ms O’Donoghue confirmed she was.
During cross-examination at the tribunal, the MD confirmed the company does not have a written policy in respect of differentiating between theft and mistakes.
The MD issued Ms O’Donoghue with a letter stating that he was relieving her of her duties immediately but further stated that he was “…prepared to offer you a less senior management position in our Ennis Road branch at the relevant pay structure”.
The MD stated this was not a letter of dismissal.
The tribunal stated that it is satisfied that Ms O’Donoghue is entitled to consider herself constructively dismissed by virtue of the lack of fair procedures, her employer’s failure to follow its own stated procedures, the defective investigation and disciplinary process, and the harsh sanction relative to the circumstances.
She has since secured alternative employment.
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