Sacked worker said he had taken Latvian ‘herbal drops’
Man awarded €12,500 for unfair dismissal over claims he was under influence of alcohol
WRC adjudication officer Emer O’Shea said that there were some concerns surrounding the processing of the dismissal.
A worker who was sacked from a sweet factory following allegations that he had attended work under the influence of alcohol has been awarded compensation of €12,500 for unfair dismissal.
An adjudication hearing of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard that the employee was observed driving in an erratic manner when he arrived late for work on September 19th, 2015.
The confectionary manufacturer’s process manager observed that the employee was “looking different than usual” when he reported for work, and brought him to the night-shift supervisor.
The supervisor noted that the employee could not walk properly, smelled of alcohol, and would not make eye contact.
When asked if he had been drinking, the employee became aggressive and replied “yes, about four hours ago”, according to evidence provided by the supervisor.
At the adjudication hearing, the employee accepted that he may have indicated to his supervisor that he had been drinking, but this was not true and he had said so only because he was angry and stressed.
Instead, he claimed that he had taken herbal drops from his native Latvia, which were intended to manage stress.
He had received a phone call from home advising him that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer and had taken some of these herbal drops because he was upset.
He explained that he had been driving erratically because he fell asleep after taking the drops and woke up late for work. He had not been under the influence of alcohol, he told the adjudication hearing.
The employee had brought a bottle of the herbal medicine to a disciplinary meeting with factory management. Records from the meeting noted that the drops were called “Barephian Hactonka” or “Baldirians”.
He also presented a letter from a GP confirming that he had been taking some herbal medication from Latvia to help him sleep.
WRC adjudication officer Emer O’Shea said that there were some concerns surrounding the processing of the dismissal, and it appeared that the progression of the complaint had been predetermined before it had been properly investigated.
Other than smelling the drops at the disciplinary meeting and deciding that they did not smell like alcohol, no other evidence presented by the employee had been considered.
In her decision, Ms O’Shea found that the investigatory process was flawed and that the employer did not act in a fair manner by failing to properly investigate evidence submitted by the employee.
She ordered the employer to pay compensation of €12,500 for unfair dismissal to the claimant, who said that the had become homeless as a result of losing his job.