Ex-Supermac's worker awarded €33,000


A FORMER Supermac’s employee who was fired after being accused of stealing from the restaurant in Portlaoise where he worked has been awarded more than €33,000 by the Employment Appeals Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Despite the Garda dropping charges against him, Daryl Mason, of Shannon Road, Mountrath, Co Laois, lost his job as a store supervisor following an in-house investigation by Supermac’s into missing cash lodgements.

The company’s inquiry began in early July 2009 when the area manager received a call from Supermac’s Ireland’s financial controller informing him about a cash shortfall in the Portlaoise restaurant. Originally the sole suspect was the local general manager, who was questioned about the matter.

However, after studying CCTV footage, the area manager observed Mr Mason removing two objects that had been left on top of the office safe on July 2nd.

After test runs in which he used the same CCTV camera to record cash lodgement envelopes left on top of the safe, the area manager concluded the objects Mr Mason was recorded taking off the safe were the missing cash lodgements.

The local general manager was involved in the investigation at this point as he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the company.

Gardaí were called and on July 22nd they arrested Mr Mason and held him in a Garda station for some 10 hours for questioning.

A search warrant was issued for his house, where he lived with his parents.

His father was asked to leave his workplace and accompany a garda to the house in order that he could conduct a search.

When Mr Mason returned to work on July 24th he was told to go home and to attend a meeting with management the following day. At that meeting, which was conducted by both the area manager and the local general manager, Mr Mason was asked about the footage.

He replied that the objects he removed were boxes of cutlery and not the missing cash lodgements.

However, this explanation was not deemed plausible by either manager as they both felt it was extremely unlikely for cutlery boxes to be left in the office.

Mr Mason was dismissed for gross misconduct. His appeal to the company’s human resources manager failed.

In the week before Christmas, the Garda advised the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute Mr Mason.

In making its determination, the tribunal noted the area manager had been “too hasty” in making his decision to fire Mr Mason.

It added that the inclusion of the local general manager in the investigation into Mr Mason was inappropriate, as he should have remained a suspect.

The tribunal awarded Mr Mason €32,000 under the Unfair Dismissal Acts, 1977 to 2007, and a further €1,700 under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts, 1973 to 2005.