Sacked NCT worker 'was told he had terrible BO'
Published 29/08/2014 | 02:30
A FORMER NCT test centre employee was told by his boss that he was alienated due to "terrible BO", an Employment Appeals Tribunal heard.
Richard Hoban, from Norwood Park in Cobh, Co Cork, said his sacking was a smokescreen for wider issues at one of the country's busiest test centres at Little Island.
Mr Hoban raised "difficult questions" regarding conflicting company policies and felt alienated and isolated as a result, the tribunal heard. He has claimed that practices at variance to company policy were commonplace and even encouraged at a Cork centre.
A hearing of Mr Hoban's case before the Employment Appeals Tribunal against Applus Car Testing Services - which is responsible for running NCT centres - resumed yesterday.
It was claimed that Mr Hoban was told by his boss Michael Long that he was alienated due to "terrible BO". He outlined grievances in an email he sent to his direct boss, the area operations manager and HR manager on July 20, 2012.
Mr Hoban said he was "ignored and avoided" by other staff members and felt he was being "punished and alienated", but was told the reason was related to body odour.
While Mr Long later apologised for the comment, in his email Mr Hoban said the remark was "upsetting and distasteful".
The tribunal has also heard that Mr Hoban, who worked at the test centre for five years, was dismissed because he regularly brought vehicles into the test centre that did not belong to him.
Applus' south-west regional manager Eamon Conlon said Mr Hoban was dismissed because he broke the rules.
"He was caught red handed and now he's plucking at straws to find a way out of it," he said. Mr Conlon said yesterday that the allegation of "vehicle inspectors testing cars during lunch with money changing hands" was the first he had heard of such a claim.
Applus operations and quality manager Hugh O'Donnell said staff bringing in cars they didn't own was an "absolute no" at test centres nationwide.
"It is an absolute categorical golden rule that you do not bring vehicles to the test centre unless it's your own car, your wife's, mother's, father's, or someone living in the house," Mr O'Donnell said.
Staff would be "very aware that it is an absolute no" due to some €100,000 spent on annual training, Mr O'Donnell said.
The hearing was told that Mr Hoban never sought to hide what he was doing.
It heard that he gave names of others who brought in cars they didn't own, and felt he was being treated differently.
The tribunal heard that as Mr Hoban worked in administration, he had no influence over test results, and there was no "objective gain" for his actions.
"Did it not strike you as incredibly strange that he would engage in this behaviour when he had nothing objectively to gain from this?" Donncha Kiely BL, acting for Mr Hoban, asked Mr O'Donnell.
"Unfortunately people do stupid things and break the rules all the time because they think they won't be caught," Mr O'Donnell replied.
The hearing was adjourned until December 20.