Man sacked for sexual harassment paid €6,500 after ‘flawed’ dismissal process

Store manager ‘confirmed he offered accommodation to employees in order to have sex with them’

The Workplace Relations Commission found the store manager’s conduct  contributed substantially to the dismissal and this should be reflected in the quantum of the award. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Workplace Relations Commission found the store manager’s conduct contributed substantially to the dismissal and this should be reflected in the quantum of the award. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A married store manager at a restaurant chain admitted to an investigator that he offered accommodation to female staff members in order to have sex with them, a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) report states.

The un-named restaurant chain summarily sacked the man for gross misconduct after concluding that he engaged in sexual harassment.

The man sued for unfair dismissal and the WRC has ordered the employer to pay the man €6,500 after finding the dismissal was unfair. He denied sexually harrassing colleagues.

Eugene Hanly, a WRC adjudication officer, found that the man’s conduct amounted to sexual harassment and that the dismissal was substantially fair. However, he also said the handling of the dismissal from a procedural point of view “was hopelessly flawed”, rendering it unfair.

In the case, the firm’s general manager received a complaint on February 10th, 2017 from a female employee that the store manager had threatened to cut her hours of work and had been going to her residence uninvited and causing a scene. She said she had been in a relationship with the man but broke it off when she discovered he was married with a family.

The firm appointed an external professional to investigate the matter and he learned that another employee had left because of alleged sexual harassment by the man. This employee also alleged that there were other cases of sexual harassment perpetrated by the store manager who worked with the company from May 2014 until his dismissal on February 26th, 2017.

‘Took advantage’

The general manager and the investigator met the ex-employee and “it was found that the Complainant (Store Manager) took advantage of his position to exhort sexual favours from his staff”.

The WRC report states that the store manager “confirmed to the investigator that he offered accommodation to employees in order to have sex with them”.

Outlining the restaurant’s case against the man, the report adds that there were “also incidents of inappropriate conduct and preferable treatment to staff in order to curry favours from female staff”.

On the completion of its investigation, the company found that the store manager’s acts “constituted not one but a number of very serious incidents”.

The company stated that the man’s actions “caused anxiety and stress to the employees and his conduct placed the health and safety of the staff at risk and also had the potential to cause reputational damage”.

In his findings, Mr Hanly found that the store manager’s conduct and behaviour was unacceptable and a dereliction of his responsibilities and duties in pursuit of his own self-satisfaction.

However, he found that the company failed to advise the man of the seriousness of the situation and the potential outcome of dismissal; failed to offer him the right to defend himself and the right of representation and did not make clear and precise the allegations of sexual harassment against the man.