Tribunal finds woman was unfairly dismissed over ’drag-yourself-around’ instruction to her colleague
Dunnes Stores sacked a worker for instructing a colleague to slow down his work “and drag himself around”.
Worker at a Dunnes outlet at Bishopstown in Cork, Eileen Buckley, was sacked for gross misconduct.
Ms Buckley sued for ‘unfair dismissal’ and the Employment Appeals Tribunal has found Ms Buckley was unfairly dismissed and has awarded her €9,330.
The tribunal did state that Ms Buckley had made a major contribution to her own dismissal.
In evidence, a person who worked in the juices area, ‘MS’, said that Ms Buckley approached him and said he had to slow down as this would create more work.
An employee with Dunnes for 10 years, ‘MS’ said that Ms Buckley then had a text sent to him through a colleague ‘MV’ again telling him to slow down. He was advised that the extra hours would lead to extra pay for him and others and MS would make more money if he “dragged himself around”.
MS told the tribunal he had not felt great when he had got “this instruction” about not working so fast.
MS reported receiving the instruction to management. Dunnes mounted an investigation that ended with Ms Buckley’s instant dismissal.
A manager with Dunnes for 36 years, JP told the tribunal that Ms Buckley was accused of seeking to create a situation where extra hours would be worked and thus extra pay.
Over a four-day hearing in Cork, JP told the tribunal that he found MS’s evidence compelling and made a finding against Ms Buckley.
JP told the hearing that Ms Buckley had set out to try to create overtime/further costs. If the floor was not finished there could be 30 extra hours for a number of people.
When it was put to JP that there was no suggestion that Ms Buckley had been organising a go-slow JP replied no one should speak against their employer.
A decision was made to dismiss Ms Buckley and a regional manager with Dunnes, TOS, handled Ms Buckley’s appeal against her dismissal. TOS said asking MS to slow down would increase labour costs for Dunnes. He said that this was a breach of trust.
Giving sworn testimony, Ms Buckley said that she had worked with Dunnes for 10 years and had been a union shop steward for nearly nine years.
Ms Buckley said she felt that MS was rushing around. She did not mean him to slow down to gain more hours. Ms Buckley said that she felt that her dismissal had been premeditated.
Ms Buckley would not say “to drag himself around” if she had known that it would lead her to the tribunal. She had used a poor choice of words in the text.
In its determination, the tribunal stated that Dunnes procedures in dealing with the allegations had been flawed from the beginning.
The tribunal found that Ms Buckley contributed to her dismissal by approaching people and was disobedient in that she had contacted others.
The award was made up of €8,000 for unfair dismissal and €1,330 to compensate for being dismissed without notice.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved