A manager who claimed that a hotel owner got “aggressive” in a meeting and ripped his face mask off while accusing him of theft has been awarded more than €27,000 in compensation by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The restaurant manager at the Twelfth Lock Hotel in west Dublin was awarded the compensation for unfair dismissal and further employment law breaches by his former employer, Gossm Investments Ltd.
In her decision, adjudicating officer Davnet O’Driscoll noted the manager was given neither written detail of the allegations nor the evidence against him.
Daniel Tanase, who had worked for the hotel since 2017, said in evidence to a hearing last September that the owner took €700 in cash from the till in the restaurant before making an accusation of theft against him on July 19th, 2020. Mr Tanase denied the allegations against him.
No representative of the hotel made an appearance at the hearing to defend the claim. Its owners name was redacted in a decision published on Tuesday morning by the WRC.
Mr Tanase said the owner told him he was watching him on CCTV, said he had to account for the money and “implied there were other issues”, and he was ordered into an office.
There, “the owner was aggressive and breached Covid-19 distance guidelines”, Mr Tanase said in evidence.
The owner “moved very close to the complainant’s face and ripped off the complainant’s mask”, the hearing was told.
Mr Tanase said the owner told him he was part of a “wider investigation” but gave him no further details – adding that this was the first time he had been told there were any issues.
The owner sent him home and called him in for another meeting on July 22nd, where he met the owner and two managers who asked him to “explain his position” and “badgered” him, he said.
Mr Tanase said they refused to let him see the CCTV footage, and then he had his keys taken away.
On September 25th he received a letter dated a fortnight earlier, terminating his employment.
The letter, which was submitted in evidence by Mr Tanase’s solicitor James Evans, said auditors and the provider of the company’s electronic point-of-sale system had carried out a review.
The letter alleged “deliberate falsification of financial records” against the complainant, which Mr Tanase denied.
It was the complainant’s case that no such investigation was carried out – but if it was – it was without his involvement, and he was denied fair procedures during the disciplinary process.
In her decision, adjudicating officer Ms O’Driscoll wrote that Mr Tanase “did not participate in any investigation, see any CCTV, and was not aware of the outcome of any investigation”.
“It is an extremely serious charge to be accused of theft. It is most surprising that the complainant was not provided with written detail of the allegations against him and evidence,” she wrote.
She found that the disciplinary process used by the employer did not comply with basic fair procedures or the Industrial Relations Act code of practice on grievance and disciplinary procedures.
“In the circumstances, I find the complainant was unfairly dismissed on substantive and procedural grounds,” Ms O’Driscoll said.
Noting that Mr Tanase had been left to take up employment on lower pay until August 2020, before going on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for five months, Ms O’Driscoll ordered compensation of €20,072.07 for loss of earnings from the unfair dismissal.
She also noted a breach of the Payment of Wages Act, and ordered €5,526.61 for unpaid wages between August 23rd and September 25th, 2020, two weeks’ notice pay and ten days’ annual leave.
Ms O’Driscoll made further awards of €230.80 for the failure to pay an appropriate Sunday premium and €1,218.84 for the employer’s failure to provide written terms of employment.