Man who failed background check seeks compensation through employment tribunal

Former UPS employee dismissed after being told he could be a ‘potential bomb maker’

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has   retired to consider the claimant’s request for €24,000, or two years salary, in compensation

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has retired to consider the claimant’s request for €24,000, or two years salary, in compensation

 


A former employee of United Parcel Service (UPS) was dismissed after being told he could be a “potential bomb-maker or terrorist”, having failed to provide sufficient background security information, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has heard. Francis Deegan (57) was unable to prove his whereabouts or work history for a period of time between 2007 and 2008, before he was hired by the delivery company.

However, the tribunal was told that other employees in a similar situation had only to sign sworn affidavits as to their own histories, including one with a “gap” of seven years. UPS argued Mr Deegan was given ample opportunity to provide documentation and the company denied having referred to him as a potential terrorist or bomb-maker.

The company, which employs more than 200 people at its plant in Finglas in Dublin, was conducting a retrospective audit of staff following post-September 11th regulations introduced by the Department of Transport and enforced by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

Mr Deegan said he had been working for two named employers during the period between 2007 and 2008, with the exception of three months in which he was engaged with Fás. He was unable to secure proof of his employment as a roofer because he had been paid cash in hand and because one of his employers had emigrated.

The tribunal heard detailed evidence from Mr Deegan and UPS on the disciplinary process he encountered. The company said it had to dismiss him under the EU Commission Regulation 185, introduced in March 2010 to specifically deal with aviation security in the freight industry.

Mr Deegan, Ballymun, Dublin, had worked as a pre-loader for the company in Finglas, which involved unloading containers, and was paid €12,000 a year. He had formally been in the Army and had worked as a roofing labourer and as a cleaner in Dublin Airport.

Referring to John O’Donovan, a manager at UPS whose function was to make a determination in his case, he said: “That man over there did say to me, ‘you could be a potential bomb-maker or a terrorist’; I’m not making that up. I thought it was a joke at the time.”

In earlier evidence, Mr O’Donovan denied this, saying his comments were designed as a “verbal slap in the face” to impress upon Mr Deegan the gravity of the situation regarding security checks. He told the tribunal there could be serious implications for UPS if it was deemed not to have properly conducted these.

Conor Bowman, for Mr Deegan, had earlier argued that sworn affidavits from other staff members demonstrated a much laxer approach to background checks and said his client had not been afforded an opportunity to sign one in place of providing documentation.

The tribunal retired to consider the claimant’s request for €24,000, or two years salary, in compensation. Reinstatement is not being sought.