In March 2015, Michael O’Connell of Clonmore, Newtownshandrum, Co Cork, was dismissed by An Post after he was caught stealing post and cash from envelopes. He was subsequently convicted at Mallow District Court where he pleaded guilty. He claimed at Cork Circuit Court his dismissal was unfair.
Judge Gerard O’Brien noted the misconduct had been admitted and cited evidence the plaintiff had a history of depression, alcohol addiction, and gambling.
But he said “theft goes to the heart of the employer- employee relationship, and it has been fundamentally breached. I cannot find the dismissal was unfair in light of the gross misconduct. No order as to costs.”
The plaintiff’s barrister, Denise Mulcahy, argued the dismissal was procedurally unfair, pre-judged, and in effect a process of ticking boxes without taking full account of the postman’s circumstances.
Pearse Sreenan, for An Post, said to the accused: “Your defence seems to be to blame An Post for the situation?” He replied, “No, I pleaded guilty to what I did.” Mr Sreenan asked, “What did An Post do wrong?” He replied, “I did ask for help. I did not get any help. They left me down. They were my employer for years.”