Clothing chain store sacked 11 staff over Christmas drinks

Leaving Cert student among group who said he wasn’t drinking awarded €400 for unfair dismissal

The company’s human resources co-ordinator   told the hearing that there was a global, consistent zero tolerance policy towards the possession or use of alcohol in the workplace.

The company’s human resources co-ordinator told the hearing that there was a global, consistent zero tolerance policy towards the possession or use of alcohol in the workplace.

 

A major clothing retailer sacked 11 members of staff after they were found drinking or possessing Mexican beer as part of a pre-Christmas party drinks event in the backroom of one of its outlets here.

A 20 strong group of staff were having the drinks after their store had closed three days before Christmas on the night of December 22nd 2015.

An investigation took place after a store security man or ‘Asset Protection Investigator’ entered the backroom of the store at around 10pm on the 22nd and saw staff members consuming the Mexican beer. The store security man approached the most senior member of staff and asked them all to leave.

As a result of the incident, 11 members were sacked for gross misconduct including one 18-year-old Leaving Cert student and he has now successfully sued for unfair dismissal.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has upheld his claim for unfair dismissal with adjudication officer Kevin Baneham awarding the teen €400.

Mr Baneham found the teen’s actions did not constitute gross misconduct and said that the €400 award was just and equitable given the number of hours worked by the teenager and the fact that his contract was coming to an end.

In upholding the claim for unfair dismissal, Mr Baneham said that members of management at the store organised the informal drinks; the store had closed; staff had assembled at the back of the store and there was no evidence of drunkenness or damage to the store.

The teen was a part time worker at the shop and earning €9.50 per hour before his dismissal on January 26th 2016.

He told the hearing that he was training with a sports team at the time of the Christmas drinks and was abstaining from alcohol at the time.

At the hearing, the unnamed retailer - which employs between 3,500 and 4,000 employees in the UK along with an unspecified numbers in its Irish workforce - was represented by A&L Goodbody while the boy’s mother accompanied him to the WRC hearing.

The teen challenged the fairness of his dismissal on the basis that others, in particular managers, were given severe warnings as opposed to dismissal.He said this had been a harsh lesson for him in his Leaving Cert year and he wished to have his good name vindicated.

The company’s human resources co-ordinator told the hearing that there was a global, consistent zero tolerance policy towards the possession or use of alcohol in the workplace.

The firm stated that the worker has been dismissed after there had been a thorough, fair and reasonable disciplinary process.