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Store manager who was sacked for hugging staff awarded €15,000

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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

A major retailer has been ordered to pay a store manager €15,000 after unfairly dismissing him for hugging other staff members.

Workplace Relations Commission adjudication officer Patsy Doyle found the store manager's claim for unfair dismissal was well-founded.

Ms Doyle said the store manager "was wronged" by his employer and failings in the disciplinary process "caused him inordinate reputational damage".

Ms Doyle directed the €15,000 compensation be paid in respect of the procedural unfairness and lapse in natural justice afforded to the store manager.

She factored in a reduction in the award to take account of the store manager's own contribution to the dismissal.

The man was dismissed from his post at the end of November 2018.

"I find your actions have fell below the expected standards we require from a member of management when colleagues have told you to stop hugging them, but you continued to do so," the dismissal letter told him.

"As a member of the management team, I find your actions are wholly unacceptable and has resulted in colleagues being offended."

The company, which established its Irish operations in 2011, launched an investigation into the manager's behaviour after a female member of staff had alleged other staff told her they felt uncomfortable with his inappropriate behaviour, including unwanted physical touching.

The store manager said he had not had a complaint against him in his seven years with the retailer, and told his employer that, while he had hugged staff, no one had taken serious offence to it and it was "banter in the workplace".

In a bid to save his job, the store manager appealed the dismissal internally.

He said: "Hugging was a universal practice, not just to females, and should be viewed as a minor misconduct and not gross misconduct."

He claimed if he had been directed to stop he would have done so.

He argued dismissal was not warranted and the sanction disproportionate, but the decision to dismiss him was upheld in the internal appeal.

Irish Independent