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Labour Court awards €15,000.00 to Tesco Employee for failure to take account of medical issues raised in Unfair Dismissal case.

Facts

The Complainant was employed with the Respondent since 2004 and at the time of her dismissal was working on the Customer Service Desk. Between June and July 2017, on three occasions a transactional discrepancy arose while the Complainant was assisting in taking cash to and from various tills. The culmination of the ensuing disciplinary process was the dismissal of the Complainant.

The Complainant was initially placed on suspension in July 2017 and invited to an investigatory meeting a week later. At the meeting, the Complainant was shown CCTV footage and till receipts but could not account for the obvious discrepancies. The Complainant informed the investigator that she had very recently been diagnosed as suffering from depression and was prescribed medication. The doctor contended that the Complainant had in fact been depressed for some time. While the investigator noted this, he commented that the Complainant had not previously sought any assistance in relation to this condition.

The Complainant was invited to a disciplinary hearing, where her diagnosis was again brought to the attention of the decision maker. In September 2017, the decision was made to dismiss, and an appeal of same upheld the decision to dismiss.

The Complainant did not dispute the incidents that led to the dismissal but contended that her dismissal was disproportionate, given she was a long standing employee, with an unblemished record and in light of her recent medical issues.

The Respondent contended that her employment was terminated on grounds of serious misconduct following a fair and impartial investigatory, disciplinary and appeals process.

The WRC found that the decision to dismiss was fair in the circumstances. The matter was appealed to the Labour Court. While the dismissal as a fact was not in dispute the Respondent had to establish in the circumstances that the dismissal was fair.

The Labour Court was of the view that the medical issues raised by the Respondent should have been investigated further. While at each stage of the process her recent diagnosis was acknowledged, it was not considered relevant to the process or worth a follow up.  The Court found that, given the behaviour complained of was completely out of character for the Complainant, the medical issues should have been dealt with and investigated further.

On that basis the Court deemed the dismissal of the Complainant to be unfair. The Court considered the appropriate redress to be compensation and awarded the Complainant €15,000.00.

Link: https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/may/udd1924.html

29th May 2019

 Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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