SuperValu worker sacked over eating discarded €3 pizza

Galway shop ordered to pay €6,400 to man unfairly dismissed for taking food from rubbish

Mr De Morais told the hearing that he asked a duty manager at Nestor’s SuperValu could he have the pizza and the manager replied “whatever”. Image: Google Streetview

Mr De Morais told the hearing that he asked a duty manager at Nestor’s SuperValu could he have the pizza and the manager replied “whatever”. Image: Google Streetview

 

A worker at a franchised SuperValu was sacked for gross misconduct after taking and then eating a discarded €2-€3 pizza from the rubbish.

However, the company behind locally owned SuperValu firm, TJN Limited and C-Town Ltd – trading as Nestor’s SuperValu in Co Galway – has now been ordered to pay €6,400 to Edson Simoa De Morais for his unfair dismissal arising from the incident by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Nestor’s operate three SuperValu outlets in Co Galway at Oranmore, Ballybane and Fr Griffin Road in Galway city and on October 11th, 2014, Mr De Morais had arrived to work without his wallet.

At lunchtime, Mr De Morais noticed a “combi” in the yard of the store containing waste products that included a damaged box containing the pizza in plastic wrapping.

Mr De Morais told the hearing that he asked a duty manager could he have the pizza and the manager replied “whatever”.

Mr De Morais took the pizza and brought it to the shop deli where he asked a colleague to cook it.

A half hour later, Mr De Morais took the cooked wrapped pizza and passed the security guard and went outside the premises to consume it.

Mr De Morais agreed he had not paid for it, but had asked permission to take it and had not concealed it when removing it from the shop.

Two days later, Mr De Morais was called to a meeting with a senior manager and he was questioned about what had occurred the previous Saturday and he was told he was suspended with pay pending further investigation.

Two more meetings were held on October 15th and October 17th when Mr De Morais was informed he was dismissed for gross misconduct as he had not followed company policy in paying for the item. Mr De Morais had been employed by the company as a general assistant since August 7th, 2013.

The manager who was present on the day that Mr De Morais took the pizza from the “combi” was unavailable for the hearing.

Asked permission

Under cross-examination, Mr De Morais stated that he had always followed company procedure when purchasing company products, but in this case it had been a waste product of no value and he had asked permission to take it.

He said, in hindsight, he should have sought permission from “a higher person”.

The general manager of the business told the hearing that the staff handbook that contains the company’s purchasing policy had been received and signed by Mr De Morais on August 7th, 2013.

The general manager agreed there had been no previous issues with Mr De Morais and that he had been a good worker.

The tribunal members stated that after carefully considering the sworn evidence adduced, it found that the sanction implemented by the firm in this instance “to be disproportionate and unfair” and found that he was unfairly dismissed.