Ticket inspector gets job back on Luas after spitting incident

Employee had 'exemplary record' before 'moment of madness' in reaction to racist abuse

Inspector had altercation with a man at Tallaght Luas stop.

Inspector had altercation with a man at Tallaght Luas stop.

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 09:53

A woman who lost her job as a Luas ticket inspector after spitting back at an abusive member of the public in a “moment of madness” has been told by the Employment Appeals Tribunal that she can return to work.

Aisha Olukoya had an “exemplary” six-year record before the incident, she had been named “employee of the month” three times and had previously been praised for her conduct.

However, yesterday’s hearing heard how she had reacted in a “fleeting moment” of despair in November 2010 after being racially abused and spat at by a man begging outside the Tallaght station. He threatened to cut her throat and tried to follow her on to the Luas but was stopped by staff.

Veolia Transport Ireland, which runs the Luas, said it took the matter extremely seriously as it brought the company into disrepute and amounted to gross misconduct. Employees were trained in how to deal with conflict situations, it added.

Ms Olukoya was dismissed in December 2010 from her €35,000 a year job.

Rosemary Mallon told the tribunal her client had admitted her mistake but held that the punishment was unreasonable.

Tribunal vice-chairman Dermot McCarthy said the case would ultimately come down to a question of the “proportionality” of disciplinary action.