Saturday 3 December 2016

Checkout worker awarded €26,000 for unfair dismissal

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry Correspondent

Published 14/02/2011 | 05:00

A CHECKOUT worker fired for clocking up customers' Valueclub points on her own card has revealed other workers were also engaged in the practice.

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Former Dunnes Stores employee Patricia Heffernan said the practice was "not unusual" at the Dublin store where she worked and condemned management's decision to fire her as "disproportionate".

The Employment Appeals Tribunal awarded Ms Heffernan over €26,000 in compensation after finding she was unfairly dismissed.

She lost her job at the supermarket chain after management discovered she had accepted 'points' that customers told her to take when they forgot their own cards.

Dunnes Stores, which could not be reached for comment last night, told the tribunal the misuse of the card "warranted dismissal" as it was essential it had a "bond of trust" with its employees.

Ms Heffernan, of Edenmore Crescent, Raheny, Dublin 5, has not found a job since she was dismissed from the store on South Great George's Street two years ago.

Compensation

The tribunal awarded her compensation of €26,190. It said Dunnes Stores was entitled to stop sales assistants from taking unused customer points. But it said a dismissal for gross misconduct was not an "appropriate" response.

"I welcome the outcome," said Ms Heffernan, who worked for Dunnes for 10 years. "The decision was harsh, disproportionate and inappropriate. The practice I was sacked over wasn't unusual in the shop."

Under the grocery chain's Valueclub scheme, customers collect points when they pay for their shopping at the till. One point is given for every €1 spent, and this is shown on the customer's receipt.

The points earned can be used to get discounts off groceries, clothes and homeware.

Ms Heffernan told her boss that customers who forgot their cards had told her to take their points when they paid for their shopping.

But she was dismissed when management found she had clocked up €110 under the scheme in six months.

She appealed her dismissal but there was no hearing and she received confirmation that she had lost her job in a letter.

The tribunal said the chain should have made contact with the sales assistant when she appealed her dismissal.

Irish Independent

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