Luas operator fired inspector who knelt on passenger’s legs

Transdev employee’s claim for unfair dismissal is rejected by commission

September 27th, 2019: A Luas ticket inspector who was recorded kneeling on a passenger's legs following an altercation over an alleged unpaid fare has had their claim for unfair dismissal rejected by the Workplace Relations Commission.

 

Luas operator Transdev fired a ticket inspector after he pinned a passenger’s legs to the ground and knelt on them for around 10 minutes.

The incident involving the young male passenger from September 2019 was filmed by another passenger and posted on Facebook where it was viewed more than 14,000 times.

Now, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Maria Kelly has rejected the ticket inspector’s claim for unfair dismissal.

In her ruling, Ms Kelly found that the decision by Transdev Dublin Light Rail to dismiss the Revenue Protection Officer’s (RPO) was within the band of reasonable responses available to the employer.

The altercation over an alleged unpaid fare took place during rush hour at Bluebell Luas tram-stop in Drimnagh on the Luas Red Line on Friday, September 27th 2019.

The RPO was suspended following the incident and dismissed on October 29th 2019 for gross misconduct.

In her findings, Ms Kelly stated: “The passenger was restrained on the ground, in public view, for up to ten minutes. That is a long time for anyone to be restrained on the ground.”

She stated: “The role of an RPO is to check passenger tickets and they are not authorised to apply physical restraint to passengers.”

Ms Kelly stated that there many options open to the RPO such as contacting the control room, stopping vehicles or walking away and “he did not take any of these options and went outside the normal procedures”.

The flashpoint arose when the RPO became involved in an incident that had started when another RPO received a document from a passenger.

The passenger tried to take back his document and was then forced to the ground and restrained there by the other RPO.

The employee before the WRC joined the other RPO in restraining the passenger and he pinned the passenger’s legs to the ground and knelt on them for approximately ten minutes.

The other RPO involved in the incident was unavailable to comment as he has been on sick leave since immediately after the incident.

Transdev stated that the RPO was dismissed on the grounds of bringing the employer into disrepute.

The RPO was represented by Siptu in the case and the trade union argued that the sanction of dismissal was disproportionate and severe in all the circumstances.

Siptu argued that the RPO attempted to de-escalate a scuffle between a work colleague and a passenger and protect a passenger from a dangerous situation.

The RPO — employed in the role by Transdev since November 2018 — argued that he had acted in good faith to prevent injury to an individual, his colleague and himself.

Siptu argued that the dismissal was severe and was unfairly influenced by the social media footage.