Monday 23 October 2017

Senior Tesco manager accused of using 'intimidatory tactics' for ordering security guard to staff member's home

Former personnel manager at Tesco Dundrum, Margaret Clare
Former personnel manager at Tesco Dundrum, Margaret Clare

Brian Byrne

A TESCO manager has been accused of using "intimidatory tactics" for ordering a security guard to call to the home of a staff member who was being investigated for removing cosmetics from a shop floor.

Former personnel manager at Tesco in Dundrum, Dublin Margaret Clare (35) admitted to removing the items on February 17, 2013 and placing them in a back room with the intention of purchasing them.

The mother-of-two said she returned the items after realising she did not have the means to pay for them.

Former store manager Gerard Counihan denied it had been inappropriate to order security manager Alan McNally to deliver a letter to Ms Clare's home to notify her of an investigatory meeting the next day.

COMPLAINT

Mr McNally was the same staff member who raised the complaint about Ms Clare removing the items, the Employment Appeals Tribunal heard yesterday.

"It was appropriate in order to ensure she got [the letter] promptly," Mr Counihan claimed.

Tribunal chairperson Penelope McGrath said she was "concerned" that giving out Ms Clare's address was a breach of data protection law.

Ms Clare said her relationship with Mr Counihan was "strange" and "difficult".

Ms Clare "had a clear sense that [Mr Counihan] wanted her out of the store," according to Joan Walsh BL, who alleged that Mr Counihan had used "intimidatory tactics" by sending the letter to Ms Clare's home.

Mr Counihan said that after he received the complaint on February 17, he carried out an investigation in which he reviewed CCTV footage and spoke to Mr McNally.

Mr Counihan said he did not see Ms Clare removing the items from the back room on the footage and admitted that he had not checked whether the items were returned.

Ms Walsh said during Mr Counihan's investigation, Ms Clare was not given an opportunity to question Mr McNally about what he had observed.

Ms Walsh also described an appeal investigation by a senior personnel manager as a "complete farce" after it emerged the manager had not taken notes when discussing the appeal with Mr Counihan.

DEMOTED

Ms Clare, who worked at Tesco for two years, was suspended with pay a day after admitting to removing the items on the basis that she had breached the company's purchasing policy.

She was demoted to a line manager position in a store in Dun Laoghaire, which paid a lower salary. Ms Clare said she felt "isolated" by staff in her new role, who she believed knew she had been disciplined. "My confidence was gone," she said.

She was later certified as medically unfit for work, which led to her decision to resign on July 25, 2013.

The tribunal continues at a later date.

hnews@herald.ie

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