A tribunal has found that the owners of Tara Mines in Co Meath were disproportionate in hiring a private investigator to place an injured worker under covert surveillance for a 13-day period.
In the case, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has awarded miner, Gerry Clarke, €8,000 after finding that he was unfairly dismissed by Boliden Tara Mines Ltd in May 2011.
Mr Clarke sustained a head and neck injury while travelling in a company jeep on an underground roadway which was in poor condition on April 10, 2011.
Mr Clarke was certified for sick leave by a company doctor.
Three days after the accident, the company’s HR manager decided along with the firm’s Employee Relations Superintendent (ERS) to hire a private investigator to carry out surveillance of Mr Clarke after they questioned the extent of Mr Clarke’s injuries arising from a doctor’s report.
At the time, Mr Clarke was put on sick leave on 85% of his wage.
Part of the surveillance was on Mr Clarke at his home and the private investigator provided video footage to his clients.
After the firm’s HR manager and ERS viewed the video footage and read the report, Mr Clarke was told that he was suspended on full pay pending an investigation.
Mr Clarke was subsequently fired by his employers in May 2011.
The Employee Relations Superintendent told the hearing that the decision to dismiss Mr Clarke was made because he had “falsified and exaggerated an injury which he claimed happened on Sunday night shift 10th April 2011” resulting in a complete breakdown in trust.
At the hearing, Mr Clarke refuted he had exaggerated his injuries and had never refused to work light duties.
The EAT found that employing the private investigator was disproportionate and “precipitous” and having considered all the evidence it determined that the dismissal was unfair.
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