Postman sacked when An Post saw report on cocaine conviction
Employment Appeals Tribunal finds Gregory Crowe’s dismissal was fair as trust ‘destroyed’
An Post suspended Gregory Crowe - employed with the company since 1999 - after coming across a newspaper report on his conviction for sale and supply of drugs. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
An Post sacked a Dublin postman after finding out through a newspaper report that he had been convicted for cocaine dealing.
In September 2011, recovering heroin addict Gregory Crowe (42), of Woodview Heights, Lucan received a suspended nine-month jail sentence after a Garda search of his home uncovered €2,500 of cocaine.
An Post suspended Mr Crowe - employed with the company since 1999 - after coming across the newspaper report on his conviction for sale and supply of drugs at Blanchardstown District Court.
A representative of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) sought clemency of behalf of Mr Crowe as he was a recovering heroin addict on a reducing amount of methadone who was coerced by his former drug dealer to hold the cocaine in payment for a former drug debt of €350 - a debt Mr Crowe had denied he owed.
Notified of dismissal
However, Mr Crowe was notified of his dismissal in January 2012 and an appeal was heard in March of that year.
The An Post appeals officer decided to uphold the dismissal.
It was the officer’s view that Mr Crowe had been convicted of a criminal offence and had been coerced by some intimidating and nasty individuals.
The officer viewed this as a continuing risk and considered this alongside the factors of the valuable items a postman delivers, the risk of theft and also that a postman has access to thousands of delivery points.
However, Mr Crowe was paid by An Post until March 2014 “due to the delay in the appeal being heard and communicated”.
Mr Crowe claimed unfair dismissal and following a two-day Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) hearing, the EAT has found the dismissal was fair, stating it was fully satisfied there is a connection or nexus between the Mr Crowe’s criminal conviction and his employment.
At the hearing, the garda who arrested Mr Crowe gave evidence on his behalf.
The unnamed garda accepted that on the occasion of the offence, Mr Crowe was not a drug dealer and likely was threatened into holding the drugs at his home.
Not attempting to profit
The garda accepted Mr Crowe was not attempting to profit from holding the drugs and that the drug dealer in question, who had him hold onto the drugs, was a bully.
The garda said Mr Crowe had not come to the Garda’s attention since his conviction.
In his evidence before the EAT, Mr Crowe said he began using heroin in 2005 and by 2008 he was using once a day.
Mr Crowe said he felt the drug dealer had seen he was vulnerable and took advantage of him. He said he later paid €1,500 to the dealer to compensate for the drugs seized.
Mr Crowe contended his drug use had never affected his work and he did not reveal his addiction as he felt ashamed of it.
Since his dismissal, Mr Crowe, who has back trouble, has been claiming disability allowance and is unavailable for work. He was seeking reinstatement.
Unfit for work
He told the EAT he was unfit for work but indicated he would try to resume duties, though he could no longer fulfil the duties of a postman.
In its recommendation, the EAT ruled it is satisfied Mr Crowe’s “conduct had destroyed the relationship of trust”.
It stated Mr Crowe as a postman held a position of great trust.
The EAT stated: “He was responsible for delivering mail, some of which may be registered mail containing money. A reasonable employer would also be concerned that Mr Crowe might be forced into distribution of drugs - which his position as postman provided ideal cover for - given that he was convicted for having drugs for sale or supply.”
The EAT stated: “Such a conviction inevitably led to a breach of trust, caused reputational damage, and led to the claimant’s dismissal which the tribunal holds is fair and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.”