Sacked deli woman who took two spoonfuls of oven fluid is awarded €13,000
A deli worker at a service station was unfairly dismissed for taking two spoonfuls of oven cleaning fluid home with her.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruled that Madara Cebina receive €13,180 from XL Fuels Group Ltd after finding the Latvian was unfairly dismissed.
At a hearing in Trim, Co Meath, Ms Cebina said she put two spoonfuls of oven cleaner from the tub used in the store into a takeaway cup which she brought home with her.
The deli worker took a lift home with her supervisor and told her what was in the cup.
A short time later she said her supervisor phoned and said the owner wanted to know what she had in the cup.
Ms Cebina said she then received a call from an administrative assistant who told her she should not report for work.
Ms Cebina said she asked her colleague if she meant the following day or for ever, and her colleague responded "for ever".
Ms Cebina offered to pay for the cleaner and told the tribunal that she was "very shocked".
The firm contended that Ms Cebina requested her P45 and left of her own accord.
She began work at the deli in June 2010 and remained until October 2013.
After the conversation with the administrative assistant, Ms Cebina contacted the firm for her P45.
Under cross-examination by a solicitor for the service station firm, it was put to Ms Cebina that in 2011 she sold yogurts at a reduced rate to a colleague and was reprimanded for doing so.
Ms Cebina agreed that the owner was unhappy on that occasion and she asked him if he was dismissing her.
She recalled that he said he would think about it and the next day he said she could stay.
She said she had sold yogurts that were about to go out of date to a colleague at a reduced rate.
Ms Cebina's supervisor gave evidence and explained that staff members could take tea and coffee free of charge at work but nothing else.
The administrative assistant told the hearing that the owner came to her office and asked if she could do without Ms Cebina on the roster if he took her off.
The assistant confirmed to Ms Cebina that she was being taken off the roster and it was because of the oven cleaner.
She said she did not dismiss Ms Cebina. She said she understood that being taken off the roster was a suspension. She did not know if Ms Cebina was being permanently removed from the roster.
The tribunal found "the dismissal was unfair" and awarded Ms Cebina €12,500 in respect of the unfair dismissal and €680 in relation to two weeks' pay.