News Courts

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Dismissal from NCT a cover-up, employee will claim

Joe Leogue

Published 08/07/2014 | 02:30

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A MAN who claims he was unfairly dismissed from an NCT centre says his sacking was a "smokescreen" to get rid of him, after he alleged that friends of inspectors brought cars into the centre, which were "inevitably" passed.

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Yesterday, Richard Hoban of Norwood Park, Cobh, Co Cork, brought a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal against Applus Car Testing Services Ltd – responsible for running NCT centres across the country.

The tribunal heard that in July 2012, Mr Hoban contacted the company's human resources department to raise a number of issues he was having with colleagues at the NCT centre in Little Island. Donncha Kiely BL, acting for Mr Hoban, said his client would claim friends of inspectors would bring cars into the centre and "inevitably pass them on a regular basis."

Eamon Conlon, Applus' south-western regional manager, said he observed Mr Hoban driving a car that was not his to the test centre in September 2012.

He said this was against Applus' code of ethics and that when he approached him about it, Mr Hoban explained it was a car he was considering buying. Mr Hoban presented his own identification when putting the car through the test. The car failed the inspection.

Allegations

Mr Conlon said that in the weeks after this incident, he received allegations that Mr Hoban had brought through another four cars in a similar manner. This information was presented to Mr Conlon via a whistleblowers protocol introduced by the company in 2010.

Mr Conlon said a prolonged disciplinary process came to an end in November 2012, when he dismissed Mr Hoban for the five instances where he presented cars that did not belong to him to the centre.

Mr Kiely said that as his client was a vehicle co-ordinator and administrator at the centre, he had no influence on the results of the tests. He said Mr Hoban did nothing to disguise the fact he was presenting cars to the centre, as he believed it to be common practice that was encouraged by his superiors to fill time slots that arose due to late test cancellations.

He said it only became an issue for management in the aftermath of his client's accusations of serious breaches of the company's ethics regulations and that Mr Hoban's dismissal was a "smokescreen" for the more serious allegations levelled at staff at the centre.

The hearing was adjourned until August 28.

Irish Independent

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