Unfairly dismissed over use of expletives

A call centre worker who used expletives in an open-plan office has been awarded €12,500 for unfair dismissal.

Unfairly dismissed over use of expletives

The Employment Appeals Tribunal ordered waste firm Oxigen Environmental to pay €12,500 to customer service representative Janet Mooney.

It ruled that there was no doubt that Ms Mooney “in verbally expressing herself at work used expletives and offensive language which was unacceptable to some of her listeners”, adding: “This scenario cannot be condoned.” However, it determined that a clear warning would have sufficed for the first offence.

Ms Mooney had worked for Oxigen for five years and had an unblemished record before being dismissed for gross misconduct in 2012.

According to the tribunal report, Oxigen’s reason for dismissing Ms Mooney “was her inappropriate language in phone conversations, along with poor handling of a customer phone call”.

In evidence, Ms Mooney denied that she used bad language but accepted that on occasion, the choice of words to colleagues was colourful. She said she was given less than 48 hours’ notice to attend a formal meeting with management.

During the meeting, recordings of some of her phone conversations were played “and based on her unapologetic admittance of potential damage and the unacceptable language used”, Oxigen concluded the only option was to dismiss Ms Mooney.

Ms Mooney thought she was dismissed because of her stated refusal to accept further pay cuts. She said she had never before been reprimanded .

The tribunal found the notice and nature of the meeting on July 18 “was too short and brief”, and that “the sanction of dismissal was disproportionate”.

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