A deputy manager at a Paddy Power betting shop who said she was instructed by her boss to take bets on credit has lost her claim for unfair dismissal after being sacked for it.
The Workplace Relations Commission has ruled the complainant should have reported the practice at her branch, using the company’s whistleblower process, but instead went along with it “in an act of misplaced loyalty”.
Emma Phillips had complained against Flutter Entertainment under the Unfair Dismissals Act that the termination of her employment in November, 2020 was a disproportionate sanction for the misconduct, which she admitted.
Ms Phillips gave evidence of bets being taken on credit in “several instances” during her six-year career at the bookmakers, during which time she had been promoted from retail assistant to deputy shop manager.
She said it might happen when a customer needed to go to take money from an ATM or had forgotten to bring means of payment.
She said the manager at her branch allowed one particular individual to place bets by phone and pay later on – and instructed another member of staff to take bets from this customer in the same way.
When neither the manager nor the shop assistant who had been given this instruction were in the shop, Ms Phillips said she was “expected” to take the bets in the same manner.
This meant falsifying the cash balance on the till and rectifying it later, she said. Ms Phillips said she felt “deeply uncomfortable with these actions” and said she was doing so “only on the instruction of her manager” and that she was in an “extremely difficult position”.
She told the hearing that the issue of bets being phoned in was discussed in her presence between a district manager and her shop manager. “The district manager stated that this is against policy, but no further action was taken,” she said.
In evidence to the hearing, the district manager said he “could not recall the specific conversation”. He said if he was informed of such activity, he would “immediately state that it is against company policy and that it should stop immediately”.
Ibec employer relations executive Niamh Ní Cheallaigh, who appeared for Flutter Entertainment, said Ms Phillips was called in to an investigation meeting over an alleged breach of its security policies and procedures.
During the meeting, Ms Phillips disclosed instances of credit betting being allowed at her shop and the falsification of cash shortages, Ms Ní Cheallaigh submitted, which meant Ms Phillips “accepted as truth” its allegations.
The disciplinary process concluded that she had “knowingly breached” the company’s credit and cash policies and so “the bond of trust and confidence had been broken”, Ms Ní Cheallaigh said. Ms Phillips was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct on November 25th, 2020.
Adjudicating officer Brian Dolan noted Paddy Power’s rules on credit betting and cash handling were “understandably strict”.
“The complainant, to her credit, at all times accepted that she knowingly and deliberately breached the store credit and cash handling procedures,” Mr Dolan wrote.
He noted Ms Phillips’ argument that the district manager should have “done more to prevent the misconduct happening” and said he could not find in her favour on it.
Ms Phillips’ dismissal “could potentially be viewed as a harsh outcome”, he wrote, but he ruled it “fell within the band of reasonable responses”.
He ruled Ms Phillips was not unfairly dismissed.