A motor dealership employee sacked during a “heated” row with a managing director over paperwork has been awarded €2,700 for unfair dismissal.
In an unfair dismissal complaint, the worker accused his boss of telling him to “f**k off” and “bring the f**king van back in the morning” after complaining that he had been shouted at.
The Workplace Relations Commission was told the argument broke out at the offices of JJ Fleming & Co on February 15th last year between service manager Cyril Murray and the company’s managing director, Pat Fleming, over the completion of warranty paperwork.
Mr Murray’s complaint against the firm under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 was upheld in a decision published this morning.
The company had denied dismissal and maintained Mr Murray had resigned.
The complainant gave evidence that he had been having problems that day with logging in to do warranty paperwork.
He said that the managing director, Pat Fleming, had already inquired with him about progress when he was on his break and “seemed unhappy” that he was having lunch.
At 4pm that afternoon the managing director came to where he was working and started to shout at him “asking why there were not more warranties completed”, Mr Murray said.
The complainant said he stood and said he “did not deserve to be spoken to in [that] manner”.
Mr Fleming replied that he would “do what he f**king wanted as he was the boss”, Mr Murray told the tribunal.
The managing director then told him to “f**k off” and “bring the f***ing van back in the morning”, he said.
The complainant told the hearing that he “took this to mean that he was dismissed”, told his boss the firm had to give him notice, and left.
Mr Murray said he had been unfairly dismissed without fair procedures and that he had been “bullied” by the managing director, Mr Fleming.
The company’s case was that Mr Murray had been expected to have done the paperwork for about 100 warranties when Mr Fleming came to check on him at 4pm that day — but had just four done.
Mr Fleming said in evidence that he was “shocked” by this.
He said Mr Murray “came out from behind the desk” and remarked that he was “out of there” before walking out of the office.
Mr Fleming said he asked Mr Murray whether he was leaving and reminded him that he still had the company’s van.
He added that Mr Murray had never mentioned any difficulties logging in to access the warranty paperwork.
Company administrator Denis Fleming, who also gave evidence, said he had a clear view of what happened from an adjoining office.
He said he recalled Pat Fleming speaking to the complainant and stating: “You’ve only done f**king four.”
Mr Murray “said he would not be spoken to in that way and that he was leaving”, the administrator said.
He added that he “would not regard Pat Fleming as a bully” and that the managing director “would use the F-word regularly in his speech, but as a colloquialism”.
Adjudicating officer Louise Boyle wrote in her decision that there was no dispute in evidence that there was a “heated exchange” and that Pat Fleming “used the F-word on numerous occasions and that the complainant also did”.
“I note from the witness for the respondent, Mr Denis Fleming, that Mr Pat Fleming uses the F-word regularly in his speech,” she added.
She found it “more credible” that the company had terminated Mr Murray’s employment and that it was “not a resignation”.
Ms Boyle wrote that she would have expected the employer to suggest both parties “cool off and discuss the matter on another occasion”.
“This did not happen and I find it was reasonable for the complainant to assume that his employment was terminated. The respondent made no effort to contact the complainant following this heated exchange to reconsider his decision and no effort to apply fair procedures to the dismissal,” she wrote.
She added that there was “limited proof” presented by Mr Murray of his efforts to mitigate his loss of earnings by finding new work.
Ms Boyle awarded him €2,700 in compensation, three weeks’ pay.