Dunnes Stores monitored staff suspected of stealing goujons
Employment Appeals Tribunal awards woman €8,000 in unfair dismissal case
The worker, who commenced work as a Dunnes deli assistant in 2007, told the tribunal that she did not see any malice in her actions.
Dunnes Stores used CCTV cameras to monitor workers who were suspected of eating chips, goujons and other food at a store’s deli counter without paying for the items, it has emerged during the course of an unfair dismissal action taken by a female staff member.
In its ruling, the Employment Appeals Tribunal stated that it “accepted that there was a consumption of food issue in the deli area for some time”.
It said it acknowledged the seriousness of the issue and the fact that the claimant admitted taking and eating the food.
“However the Tribunal is of the view that the investigation and disciplinary process actually invoked by the company fell short of acceptable practice.”
It found the worker was unfairly dismissed, but was satisfied that she contributed two-thirds to her dismissal and accordingly awarded her €8,000 under the Unfair Dismissal Acts. The EAT awarded the woman an additional €511, the equivalent of two week’s pay under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employments Act 1973 to 2005.
The hearing of the case took place over two days in Galway.
The EAT stated that the Dunnes Stores investigation “fell short of acceptable practice” after the supermarket chain’s head of security confirmed to it that he installed two CCTV cameras in the store’s deli and retail area on a request from the store manager.
The installation of the CCTV cameras without the staff’s knowledge followed what the manager told the tribunal was evidence of serious breaches of company policy concerning food being consumed without payment.
The covert surveillance provided evidence in relation to eight incidents over two days in September 2011 relating to the worker who was subsequently dismissed and took the unfair dismissal action.
The worker, who commenced work as a Dunnes deli assistant in 2007, told the tribunal that she did not see any malice in her actions, stating that she “would have eaten a chip, goujon or chicken wing”.
She told the tribunal that food which was not purchased or consumed was thrown out at the end of each day and that she apologised to the store manager.