Man sacked for leaving work to help ‘trapped wife’ awarded €20,000

Manager went home to handle ‘hostile situation’ after men with weapons gathered outside

Adjudication officer Rosaleen Glackin ruled the decision by the services company to dismiss him was not appropriate and a lesser sanction would have been more appropriate.

Adjudication officer Rosaleen Glackin ruled the decision by the services company to dismiss him was not appropriate and a lesser sanction would have been more appropriate.

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A warehouse manager was sacked for leaving work to go home after getting a distressed call from his wife telling him that she was trapped there with eight to 10 men outside carrying weapons.

In the incident, four men from the man’s workplace accompanied the warehouse manager to the “dangerous and hostile situation” at his home and he was sacked by his employer for gross misconduct as a result.

The man sued for unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled that he was unfairly dismissed and has awarded him €20,000.

Adjudication officer Rosaleen Glackin ruled the decision by the services company to dismiss him was not appropriate and a lesser sanction would have been more appropriate.

Prior to the incident on October 30th 2016, the man had an excellent work record over 18 years.

He explained that at around 8pm on the night, he received an urgent phone call from his wife who told him that she was trapped at home with eight to ten young men armed with weapons outside.

He said his wife was extremely upset and he decided to drive to the house which was 10 minutes away.

On his way, he asked two workers, who were on their rest break, to accompany him while two other workers joined of their own accord.

Diffused

The purpose was to secure the house and when they arrived, gardaí were already there, and the situation was defused.

The warehouse manager emailed the operations manager to say he was off site and the reasons for this.

On November 7th, the man was suspended for gross misconduct as a result of an unauthorised absence from work, taking four employees with him and leaving the site without a supervisor for 20 minutes.

The man appealed the decision internally and the decision to sack him was upheld.

The company claimed he had placed the health and safety of the other employees in his unauthorised absence at risk and exposed the four to a dangerous and hostile situation outside his home.

Ms Glackin found that in the context that the worker had an exemplary record and was faced with a personal urgent issue which required his immediate response, it would have been more appropriate for the company to issue the man with a lesser disciplinary action than dismissal.

Ms Glackin found however that the decision of the warehouse manager to ask two other employees to accompany him and allow two others join him was not an appropriate response by the worker, especially where in his report to the operations manager he did not report that four other employees had been absent for 20 minutes.

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