Wednesday 17 January 2018

Drug dealer gets €11k over Tesco sacking


Gordon Deegan

THE Irish arm of supermarket giant, Tesco has been ordered to pay a convicted drug dealer €11,500 arising from the man’s unfair dismissal from the retailer.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) made the order after finding that the man’s dismissal was not fair and was also procedurally unfair.

His dismissal in September 2011 came two months after he pleaded guilty to a charge of the possession of drugs with intent to supply.

The charge-hand for the retailer received an eight month suspended jail term for the offence.

He had commenced working for the retailer in 1996 and had a blemish free employment record over 15 years before his dismissal in September 2011.

On informing Tesco of the conviction on August 2 2011, the retailer placed him on suspension with pay pending further investigation.

At a meeting on September 26 2011, he was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct as a conviction by a court for any serious criminal offence is considered damaging to the company and conduct which brings the company’s good name into disrepute.

The EAT report on the case records that when charged with the drugs offence, he informed his then Tesco store manager and continued his employment with the firm.

The report also records that a Tesco personnel manager provided him with a character reference for his court case.

He appealed his dismissal internally and a manager of another Tesco outlet oversaw the appeal and upheld the decision to dismiss as his conviction “could easily bring the company into disrepute”.

During cross-examination at the hearing which took place over two days in Dublin, the manager or Appeal Officer confirmed that he did not find evidence that customers or member of the public were aware of his conviction “but he considered how it would be viewed it if came into the public domain”.

The Appeal Officer confirmed that he did travel to his un-named Tesco store, but did not speak to the Store Manager, Personnel Manager or anyone else at the store in connection with the matter.

In its ruling, the EAT determined that in all of the circumstances, it “does not find the dismissal in this instance was fair”.

The EAT found that “the company’s procedures particularly in relation to the appeal were insufficient in considering sanctions other than dismissal in light of the claimant’s previous good record and his efforts to keep the company appraised of the situation”.

The EAT concluded that “although it was right of the company to consider dismissal as a remedy open to them under their procedures, the company did not demonstrate that it genuinely considered the alternative sanctions that could have been applied”

The EAT also found that the dismissal was procedurally unfair.

The EAT found that “while the nature of the complaint against the employee was serious, not enough regard was given by the company to the 15 years unblemished employment records the claimant held with the company”.

The EAT report states that “notwithstanding the company’s right to dismiss as one of the remedies, in these circumstances, the company could have considered lesser alternative sanctions”.

Efforts to make contact with the man through his solicitors were yesterday unsuccessful.


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