Cafe ordered to pay €3,200 to waiter over dismissal for eating croissant at work

WRC finds manner of dismissal was contrary to principle of fairness and natural justice

The two sides gave conflicting versions of the sequence of events around the croissant incident. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The two sides gave conflicting versions of the sequence of events around the croissant incident. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A cafe has been ordered to pay €3,200 compensation to a waiter for unfairly dismissing him over eating a croissant while at work.

The cafe is counting the cost of the unfair dismissal after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that the manner of the dismissal was entirely contrary to the principle of fairness and natural justice.

The Kosovo-born waiter was sacked after his boss saw him eating the croissant behind the counter in full view of cafe customers on January 8th, 2019.

The two sides gave conflicting versions of the sequence of events around the croissant incident.

The waiter stated that after he tried to explain that he needed to eat something before taking medication, the head manager stated, “You know what, you are finished, you can just go home”.

The waiter – who required the medication for back pain – stated that when moments earlier the head manager had spotted him eating the croissant behind the counter, the head manager came down and said, “What the f**k are you doing behind the counter”.

The waiter stated that the head manager stepped inside the counter, and said, “get the f**k to the back”.

Employed by the cafe since September 2017, the waiter stated that he had paid for the croissant and that he was really embarrassed in how he was addressed by the head manager and dismissed in front of his work colleagues and customers who all know him.

The waiter stated that he had permission from the cafe’s floor manager to eat the croissant.

WRC adjudication officer, James Kelly stated that the decision was made by the cafe to end the waiter’s source of income and livelihood “without being in full sight of all the facts”.

Mr Kelly stated the obvious missing piece in the investigation by the employer was the waiter’s side of the story, which is entirely contrary to the principle of fairness and natural justice.

Mr Kelly stated that on balance, he found the manner in which the cafe failed to conduct any investigation in line with its own disciplinary procedure fails to comply with fair procedures and natural justice.

He stated: “In the circumstances, I find that the complainant was unfairly dismissed.”

According to the cafe, the waiter did not get permission from the floor manager to eat the croissant and eating the croissant in full view of customers was a breach of the staff food policy.

The cafe stated that the head manager never verbally abused the waiter in front of the customers or staff.

The cafe told the WRC that due to continued issues with the waiter’s performance over the previous few months leading up to the events in January 2019, it deemed that his performance was not acceptable, and the only course of action was for the waiter to be dismissed.

The cafe stated that the waiter was on a warning and that it was of the opinion that it went out of its way to help the waiter during the course of his employment and it even provided references for him to get accommodation.

It said that it provided him with additional help and training but there were countless problems reoccurring.