Woman sacked while pregnant begins case against nightclub
Published 29/10/2011 | 05:00
A WOMAN who was fired five months into her pregnancy has begun an unfair dismissal case against her former employer Pod Entertainment.
Hungarian national Gabriella Varga (41) was accused of stealing €40 from the tills of the Tripod nightclub in Dublin -- a claim she has denied.
Ms Varga worked behind the bar and also as an "unofficial" supervisor from October 2006 until she was let go in January 2009.
Yesterday, Darrach MacNamara, counsel for Ms Varga, told the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in Dublin that his client was fired on a charge that would not be upheld by any court.
The venue, owned by impresario John Reynolds, had "conveniently" lost documents that supported her side of the story, he added.
He said it was a clear case of pregnancy-related dismissal.
Giving evidence yesterday, Pod operations manager Linda Monaghan, who reports directly to Mr Reynolds, said that she had been given no choice but to fire Ms Varga.
She said that on the night of January 31, 2009, she received a phone call from a colleague who said that he had witnessed something "very suspicious".
He told Ms Monaghan that he saw Ms Varga taking three €10 notes and two €5 notes from the till and put them in a tips tray.
He alleged that the amount of coins placed in the till could not have added up to €40.
Ms Monaghan ordered the till to be checked and found a €49.50 shortfall.
At the end of the night, she asked Ms Varga about the shortfall and alleged that she had no answer for it.
Ms Varga had placed a handwritten note in the cash register accounting for a €24 shortfall, but Ms Monaghan said this was not correct procedure.
"I asked her if she knew what it looked like," Ms Monaghan told the tribunal.
"That she took the money and made the refund to cover her tracks," she added.
Mr MacNamara said that the note had been left because there was a problem with the venue's credit card machine.
A customer had ordered three drinks and a packet of cigarettes and tried to pay with a card.
The customer said that she would go to an ATM, but did not return afterwards, leaving the bill unpaid.
Mr MacNamara also said that, given the company's policy of making employees replace any shortfall from their till, Ms Varga would essentially have been "stealing from herself".
He also said that the till history log had shown that a number of people had used it on the night.
This was despite Ms Monaghan's evidence that, to the best of her recollection, it was only used by Ms Varga.
Mr MacNamara also said that Ms Varga's had taken the change from the tips tray and replaced it with notes because her till's change had run out.
In cross-examination, Ms Monaghan agreed that Ms Varga had an impeccable record prior to the alleged theft.
An opening application by counsel for Pod to have the hearing thrown out because the case had not been taken in time was dismissed.
The case was adjourned until January 20.