The Irish arm of supermarket giant Tesco has been ordered to pay a convicted drug dealer €11,500 for unfair dismissal.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) made the order after finding that the supermarket employee’s dismissal was not fair.
The dismissal in September 2011 came two months after the employee 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.
The former employee began 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 the employee on suspension with pay pending further investigation.
At a meeting on September 26, 2011, the employee was dismissed as a conviction by a court for any serious criminal offence is considered damaging and brings the company’s good name into disrepute.
The EAT report on the case records that when charged with the drugs offence, the employee informed his then Tesco store manager.
The report also records that a personnel manager provided the employee with a character reference for his court case.
The employee appealed his dismissal internally and a manager of another Tesco outlet oversaw the appeal and upheld the decision.
During cross-examination, the manager confirmed that he did not find evidence that the public was aware of the employee’s conviction.
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 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 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”.