Fired cook got warning for putting ketchup on burger
A COOK was given a written warning for wrongly putting ketchup on a takeaway order, and was later fired from her job after "cremating" chicken, a tribunal was told.
Sheree Young was dismissed from her job at Charley's Cafe in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, last year, shortly after she returned from maternity leave. She is taking an unfair dismissal case against Giles McGee, the owner.
An Employment Appeals Tribunal heard Mr McGee allege that he feared Ms Young would poison customers at his restaurant and takeaway.
He claimed that chicken wasn't cooked properly, taco mince was under-cooked and garlic mayonnaise was heated in a microwave.
Mr McGee took over the cafe once run by his father in February 2011 after it had been leased by a third party for five years. Staff including Ms Young were kept on, he told the tribunal.
Later that year, he issued Ms Young with a written warning – handwritten on a jotter page – after a customer complained that a burger she had ordered from the takeaway part of the business had red sauce on it. Mr McGee said the customer complained that "this wasn't the first time this had happened".
Panel chair Fiona Crawford was told that Ms Young went on maternity leave in July 2012. That December, she had met with Mr McGee to discuss her return to work.
Under cross-examination from solicitor Cathal Quinn, for Ms Young, the cafe owner admitted: "I didn't think I would have any room to bring her back from her maternity leave, and there was no work for her."
Ms Young did return to the cafe on January 14. Her cooking was so bad that day, alleged Mr McGee, that he decided he would log her mistakes.
He found fish had been overcooked and undercooked, cold mince pies had been served, and garlic mayonnaise had been heated in a microwave. "She served poached eggs with one of them busted on the plate," he said.
"She cremated food to the point it was inedible."
On another occasion, he intercepted undercooked chicken before it was served.
The cafe owner claimed he feared that customers were going to get poisoned, and just two weeks after Ms Young's return from maternity leave he fired her for gross misconduct.
Mr Quinn, however, said the list of alleged cooking errors was "a catalogue of total lies and total exaggeration".
He said Ms Young had worked for four years with the previous tenant of the cafe, adding: "If this were true she would have poisoned half of Letterkenny during her four years working for the previous owner – and that didn't happen."
However, Mr McGee said Ms Young's alleged ineptitude was "either gross incompetence or deliberately done".
Mr Quinn countered that his client would deny all the allegations about poor performance.
She had never been given a contract of employment and all the basic rules on discipline had not been followed.
"Even in the burger incident 13 months earlier, she will deny that she did put red sauce on the burger," he added.
The hearing was adjourned until the autumn.