Tesco must pay ex-employee €18,000 over dismissal process

Alan McNally was fired after removing a VTech toy from a store without paying for it

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ordered Tesco’s Irish arm to pay former security manager Alan McNally €18,000. Photograph: PA

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ordered Tesco’s Irish arm to pay former security manager Alan McNally €18,000. Photograph: PA

 

A former Tesco security manager, who suffered a heart attack after being dismissed by the company for removing a toy from one of its stores without paying, has been awarded €18,000.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal ordered the retailer’s Irish arm to pay Alan McNally the sum after finding he was the victim of “significant procedural unfairness”.

In particular, the tribunal found an unexplained seven-month delay in dealing with an appeal against his dismissal “unacceptable”.

In the case against Mr McNally, it was alleged that he set a VTech toy aside in a security office to try it out before potentially purchasing it.

Another security officer told the tribunal they noticed the toy was removed from the office a few days later and that CCTV footage showed Mr McNally taking it without paying.

Mr McNally told the tribunal he brought the toy home to check if it was suitable for his child, and for safekeeping – as items left in the office had been removed previously.

He said he always intended to pay for the toy and made no effort to conceal it when bringing it home, or back a few days later.

The incident was reported to the store’s personnel manager and an investigation that ultimately led to Mr McNally’s dismissal for breaching Tesco’s staff-purchase and honesty policies on April 22nd, 2014, took place.

Mr McNally sought to appeal the decision to dismiss him on three occasions, setting out 10 grounds of appeal, but received no response from Tesco.

Devastating impact

The tribunal heard the whole process had a devastating impact on Mr McNally and the lack of response had compounded this.

In the absence of a reply, his legal representative wrote to Tesco on June 6th, 2014, but a response was issued directly to Mr McNally, as the firm refused to engage with his solicitor.

At this point, Mr McNally suffered a heart attack and was not capable of engaging directly with Tesco.

In its determination, the tribunal found that Mr McNally’s actions had been against company policy, the policing of which was central to his role as a security manager.

The tribunal also noted Mr McNally accepted that what he had done was wrong.

The tribunal found the decision to dismiss him was reasonable in the circumstances, but said it was also necessary for the procedure used to achieve that end to be fair.

In this regard, the tribunal was satisfied there was “significant procedural unfairness” in the manner of the dismissal.

The long and unexplained delay in commencing an appeal was of particular significance, it said.

The tribunal said compensation for the total loss arising from the dismissal would have amounted to some €65,000, but it was necessary to consider the extent to Mr McNally’s conduct was attributable to this loss.

In light of this, it was satisfied that compensation in the amount of €18,000 was just and equitable in the circumstances.