Chef accused of swearing at nursing home staff and residents

EAT hears appeal over dismissal after allegations of abusive behaviour towards colleagues

An Employment Appeals Tribunal heard that concerns had also been raised by members of staff in relation to undercooked food.

An Employment Appeals Tribunal heard that concerns had also been raised by members of staff in relation to undercooked food.

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 15:39

A chef at the TLC Nursing Homes group used foul and abusive language to other staff members, taunted residents, and was ultimately dismissed after a series of warnings, the Employment Appeals Tribunal has been told.

Chef Trevor Murtagh has alleged he was unfairly dismissed in 2012 by TLC Nursing Homes which employs about 400 people in a number of centres in Dublin and Kildare.

At an Employment Appeals Tribunal this morning, TLC group services manager Mo Halpin gave evidence that concerns had been raised by other members of staff in relation to undercooked food.

Human Resources manager with the group Rose Stanley said further complaints from staff described foul and abusive language including allegations that Mr Murtagh described a colleague as “an asshole”. She said staff had raised issues of Mr Murtagh using expressions such as “bite you in the arse” and “sort this shit out” as well as “you don’t give a bollocks” and “bollocksed out of it”.

Ms Stanley said an investigation by the director of nursing Catherine Tighe had heard allegations that Mr Murtagh called a colleague “a f***ing asshole”. Ms Stanley also recalled an allegation that Mr Murtagh remarked “girls get emotional and cry”.

Ms Stanley also recalled allegations that Mr Murtagh had shouted “would somebody tell that f***er to shut up” in relation to an elderly man who was confused and wanted his lunch. She also recalled allegations that Mr Murtagh had refused to give a hot plate to a blind patient who had requested one, and had kept another patient waiting for her food.

Ms Stanley said in September 2010 Mr Murtagh had been given a formal warning in relation to not taking food samples and a final written warning was given in relation to undercooked turkey in November 2011. She also said Mr Murtagh had been the subject of a separate written warning for foul and abusive language in February 2011 and in March 2012 he was given a final written warning for breaches of health and safety regulations.

However Gavin Mackay of Spellman Callaghan solicitors for Mr Murtagh said his client had been entitled under principles of natural justice to fair procedures. He said the investigation by the director of nursing Ms Tighe, had been followed by Ms Stanley convening a disciplinary hearing against him. This was unfair as Mr Murtagh had not been given timely access to the allegations against him. Mr Mackay siad his client was not initially allowed access to statements of witnesses and CCTV footage which could have been useful to his defence.

He also said notes of conversations and minutes provided by Ms Stanley to Mr Murtagh’s legal team, did not appear to be true copies of notes retained by the defence.

He said Mr Murtagh had been denied the ability to mount a vigorous defence to the allegations and the whole process had been prejudiced.

Tribunal chair woman Niamh O’Carroll Kelly adjourned the hearing and strongly advised the parties to engage in talks over the lunchbreak.

The hearing continues this afternoon.