An employee of a car hire company who was suspected of involvement in the theft of one of the company's cars has won his case for unfair dismissal and has been awarded €17,500 compensation.
Darren Gorman brought his case alleging constructive dismissal against Evergrey, trading as Avis Rent A Car, to an Employment Appeals Tribunal. He told the hearing in Dublin that, to his knowledge, no investigation into the theft had been carried out.
No one, neither the depot manager nor the gardaí, had contacted him about the matter, Mr Gorman said in evidence.
The theft of the company car in late July 2012 was the final issue for him. He had been suspended for suspected involvement and while he later received a letter to say he could resume duty, it did not exonerate him.
There had been previous issues, including the withdrawal of a pre-existing right to use a company car to travel to and from work. He felt he was being unfairly targeted.
He subsequently resigned because he did not believe it was possible for him to return to work in such circumstances.
The depot manager told the tribunal he made the decision to suspend Mr Gorman on full pay on July 24, 2012. A car had been stolen from the depot and he had examined CCTV footage of the event.
Mr Gorman had moved the car and left the key in the ignition before going indoors. Almost immediately the thief walked past a higher value car with an open door and the key in the ignition and took the car that Mr Gorman had moved.
The gardaí considered his action to be suspicious and, while the manager did not accuse him of stealing the car, Mr Gorman was the only employee suspended following the theft.
The manager did not conduct an investigation into the theft of the car and when the gardaí decided to take no further action, he was happy for Mr Gorman to return to work.
When the use of the company's cars by staff was suspended, he had offered to pay for a taxi to get Mr Gorman from his home to a bus stop and provided him with a bus timetable.
In May 2012, he had to issue a written warning after Mr Gorman had repeatedly failed to notice damage caused to hire cars. The company was concerned from a safety perspective.
The tribunal found the company erred when it did not investigate for itself the circumstances surrounding the theft of a car, having decided to suspend Mr Gorman.