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An accident-prone loss assessor crashed her car into a vehicle belonging to a man whose house was on fire at the time.

An accident-prone loss assessor crashed her car into a vehicle belonging to a man whose house was on fire at the time.

The crash by Linda Lydon at the scene of a Dublin house fire in December, 2008, was one of a litany of car accidents that she was involved in, resulting in her employers, Cleary's Insurance Services, finally losing patience with Ms Lydon and sacking her in December 2010.

However, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has found that Ms Lydon's car accidents didn't amount to gross misconduct and found that she was unfairly dismissed, awarding her a total of €17,908.

In evidence at the hearing held in Dublin, the EAT members were told that Ms Lydon was despatched by her office manager on December 18, 2008, to a house fire that was on the news where she was to distribute company brochures to the owners of a row of houses that were on fire.

incident

The EAT report on the incident stated that the area was busy with emergency services and journalists covering the fire.

However, having distributed the brochures, Ms Lydon was 
attempting the leave the area when she reversed her car into the vehicle belonged to the man whose house was on fire.

The householder's son had 
witnessed the accident and 
accused Ms Lydon of trying to leave the area.

However, Ms Lydon disputed this and explained that she had given out several brochures and had given her phone number to a neighbour.

The cost of the accident totalled €940, with Ms Lydon paying €500 and her employer paying the remainder.

In October 2010, Ms Lydon had another accident when her car hit a hoarding in a car-park when she veered to avoid a child and the accident had caused minor damage to the bodywork of the car.

impact

Ms Lydon was due to discuss the costs of the October accident on November 11, 2010, but the meeting was postponed and the following day she was involved in another car accident - this time writing off her car when mounting a median island and crashing into a traffic light.

The luckless driver said that she had been driving at 40kmph and had slowed down when blinded by the sun rather than breaking as she knew there was traffic behind her.

No one was injured in the accident and Ms Lydon was not prosecuted.

At this stage, Ms Lydon - who was only on a Provisional Licence when initially employed in August 2008 later securing a full licence in October, 2008 - suggested taking an advanced driving course as she wanted to restore her employer's confidence in her driving.

During Ms Lydon's 
employment with the firm that is headquartered in Galway with offices in Dublin and Limerick, she was also caught speeding and issued with two penalty points. She was also caught on her mobile and issued with an additional two penalty points.

Ms Lydon was on a written warning at the time of the November 2010 crash and was dismissed for gross misconduct as a result of the accident on December 12, 2010.

Ms Lydon appealed internally the decision to dismiss, however, the company's Finance Manager (FM) upheld the sacking.

The EAT report stated that the FM upheld the dismissal as she felt she would be responsible if she allowed Ms Lydon continue in her job and she had a future accident.

The FM felt that Ms Lydon didn't take any personal responsibility for the accidents and she believed that the problem was not Ms Lydon's technical ability to drive, but more her attitude.

However, the EAT has found that Ms Lydon's behaviour didn't amount to gross misconduct and found that she was unfairly 
dismissed and awarded her €17,000.

The EAT awarded Ms Lydon a further €908 under the Payment of Wages Act.

hnews@herald.ie


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