Security guard who took toy without paying gets €18k for unfair dismissal

A former security manager suffered a heart attack after being unfairly dismissed by Tesco for removing a toy from one of its stores without paying for it, a tribunal has heard.

Security guard who took toy without paying gets €18k for unfair dismissal

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ordered the Irish arm of the British retailer to pay Alan McNally €18,000.

The tribunal found that an unexplained delay of seven months in dealing with an appeal against his dismissal was “unacceptable”. Mr McNally suffered a heart attack during this period.

It was alleged that Mr McNally had an interest in buying a VTech toy and set it aside in a security office to be purchased at a later date.

A security officer who gave evidence to the tribunal had noticed the toy had been removed from the office a few days later and checked CCTV footage, which showed Mr McNally taking the item without paying.

Mr McNally told the tribunal he had brought the toy home to check its suitability for his child, and for safekeeping — as items that had previously been left in the office for subsequent purchase had been removed.

He said he had always intended to pay for the toy and made no effort to conceal it either when he was bringing it home, or when he brought it back to the store a few days later.

A store investigation was commenced that led to his dismissal on 22 April, 2014.

Mr McNally wrote three times to request an appeal of the decision to dismiss him, but he received no response.

His legal representative wrote to Tesco on June 6, 2014, but a response to this letter was issued directly to Mr McNally, as they refused to engage with his solicitor.

At this point, Mr McNally suffered a heart attack and was not capable of engaging directly with Tesco, the tribunal heard.

The EAT found Mr McNally’s actions had been against company policy, and noted a central part of his role as security manager was to police this policy. It noted that he accepted what he had done was wrong.

The EAT found that the decision to dismiss Mr McNally was a reasonable one, in the circumstances, but said it was satisfied there was “significant procedural unfairness” in the manner of Mr McNally’s dismissal.

The EAT said compensation for the total loss arising from the dismissal would have amounted to approximately €65,000, but it was necessary to consider the extent to which the financial loss was attributable to Mr McNally’s own conduct.

In the light of this, it was satisfied that compensation in the amount of €18,000 was just and equitable.

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