A former bus driver who was given a four-year driving ban after causing the death of a cyclist has claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job by Dublin Bus.
Osborn Irabor, aged 60, has begun an appeal at the Labour Court against a ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission that Dublin Bus had not unfairly terminated his employment.
The bus company denies that it dismissed Mr Irabor and claims his contract of employment was frustrated as a result of the four-year driving ban imposed on him by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in November 2018.
Mr Irabor, of French Park, Tyrellstown, Co Dublin, was found guilty of careless driving causing the death of cyclist, Mary White, 55, on Burlington Rd, Dublin, on November 17, 2014, by a unanimous verdict of a jury.
The Labour Court heard that Mr Irabor had been subject to an internal disciplinary process following the fatal collision which had resulted in him being given a final written warning and a suspension of two weeks, which was reduced to one week on appeal.
Following his criminal conviction, Dublin Bus notified Mr Irabor on March 14, 2019, that his contract had come to an end as the driving ban had taken effect from the start of the year.
Mr Irabor, who had a previously unblemished safety record since joining the company in 2007, had his contract formally terminated on April 24, 2019.
Cathy Maguire, for Dublin Bus, said the company was left with no alternative but to treat the claimant’s work contract as frustrated due to the lengthy driving ban he had received as a result of his criminal conviction.
Ms Maguire said Dublin Bus had checked to see if an appeal lodged by Mr Irabor with the Court of Appeal against his conviction had any impact on his driving ban and established that it did not suspend the circuit court’s sentence.
She said an application by Mr Irabor’s trade union to have his case heard by the Dublin Bus Disciplinary Appeals Board was also rejected by the company as his contract had been terminated as a result of the driver’s inability to fulfil his duties and not due to a disciplinary issue.
Siptu official Barnaba Dorda, representing Mr Irabor, claimed his client’s contract for employment stated that a failure to maintain a driving licence would be regarded as “grave misconduct” which would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
However, Ms Maguire said the clause was designed to apply to drivers who failed to renew their driving licence.
The Labour Court also heard that Dublin Bus provided other drivers with a driving ban or who were unfit to drive with alternative positions in the company.
Mr Dorda said Mr Irabor had a reasonable expectation that the possibility of being redeployed would be discussed.
Ms Maguire said there was strong demand for redeployment within Dublin Bus as around 90 drivers could be unfit to drive at any one time.
While the company had redeployed sick drivers and some others who had received a driving ban, she claimed Mr Irabor’s situation was very different because of the lengthy nature of his suspension from driving.
The deputy chairperson of the Labour Court, Louise O’Donnell, said a lot of facts in the case between the parties were not in dispute but rather the application of the legislation.
Ms O’Donnell also observed that the question of dismissal should not be in dispute as the real disagreement was about the type of dismissal.
The remote hearing was adjourned until a later date as Mr Irabor, who was undergoing mandatory quarantining with his family, was required to leave the hotel where he was staying having completed the required period in isolation.
Separately, a ruling by the Court of Appeal on Mr Irarbor’s appeal against his conviction is due shortly.