Shoplifting amid chaotic scenes at an overcrowded shop during ‘Storm Emma’ contributed to the loss of €30,000 worth of stock.
That is according to evidence from an unfair dismissal hearing at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) where the retail supervisor put in charge of the store was adjudged to have been unfairly dismissed by his boss on the owner’s return from overseas.
During Storm Emma, the country was in lockdown with all public transport services shut and major stores closed as people were advised to remain at home.
However, the man fired in the aftermath of the snow storm told the WRC hearing that under severe pressure from his boss, who was overseas at the time, he opened the shop during the storm. The location or name of the store is not disclosed in the WRC report.
The worker said that the store “was effectively overwhelmed by customers as most of the major retailers were closed” and “the situation became chaotic”.
During the storm, the convenience store recorded a loss of around €30,000 worth of stock and in his evidence at the WRC hearing, the owner accepted that being overseas he had miscalled how severe Storm Emma would be.
The owner accepted that “the significant loss of stock, shoplifting due to the overcrowding during the storm, from the shop was ultimately a result of his decision” to remain open during Storm Emma.
A number of days after the owner’s return on March 8, the owner had a meeting with the retail supervisor.
The worker said he felt “unfairly blamed” for the stock loss. The meeting was “frank” and the worker handed back his shop keys and insisted that he did not wish to have any further supervisory role in the shop.
The worker continued working as a till assistant as normal to the end of his shift.
That evening the owner sent a WhatsApp message to the staff telling them that the worker has “left the job”.
In a further exchange of text messages that night the worker asked if he was being “sacked” to which his boss replied “yes”.
At the hearing, the owner said that he did not hold the employee responsible for the €30,000 loss in stock.
He said however, that his employee “had abandoned the job”.
At two follow-up meetings, the owner offered the employee an opportunity to resume work and this was refused.
In his findings, WRC adjudication officer Michael McEntee found that an unfair dismissal, though in a fit of pique, had taken place.
Mr McEntee said that the worker had contributed significantly to his dismissal by refusing the offers to return at the two follow-up meetings.
Mr McEntee ordered the employer to pay the man compensation of €375 noting that the man had secured alternative, more lucrative employment within four weeks.