Dunnes Stores employee fired for underage alcohol sale, EAT hears

Company claims Anna Perenc dismissed after serving bottle of wine to 16-year-old

A Dunnes Stores employee was fired for serving alcohol to a customer under the age of 18, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has heard.

Anna Perenc was dismissed following a breach of the liquor licences at the company’s store in St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. Ms Perenc is suing for unfair dismissal.

At 11.20am on May 30th, 2013, Ms Perenc sold a bottle of wine to a 16-year-old girl. The incident was recorded on CCTV.

A garda was present in the store and immediately drew Ms Perenc’s attention to the fact that she had served an underage customer.


Ms Perenc was with Dunnes Stores for seven years before she was dismissed on June 5th, 2013.

‘Extremely serious’

The store’s human relations manager Lorna Rafter said the company regarded the sale of alcohol to those under the age of 18 as “extremely serious”.

Ms Rafter said the importance of understanding the guidelines was made clear to staff through retraining every year.

She said that every employee was told that selling alcohol to minors could get the store closed and leave the company with a substantial fine. They were also told that it was better to mistakenly believe somebody was under 18 than serve a minor.

Ms Rafter said that if an employee was in any doubt that somebody might be underage, they were told to ask customers to return with a suitable ID.

She said that Ms Perenc had been trained nine times in the company’s policy relating to serving alcohol and while there had been “no badness” in relation to the sale on the part of Ms Perenc, Dunnes Stores had invested a huge amount of time and energy in training staff in relation to the issue.

Ms Rafter said she interviewed Ms Perenc after the incident occurred.

“[Ms Perenc] conveyed to me that she did not look at [the underage girl’s] face. She said after the fact that she made a mistake.

“There was no concentration on the sale full stop.”

Ms Perenc was represented at the hearing by Mandate union official Dave Moran. Mr Moran suggested to Ms Rafter that, as an employee, Ms Perenc had been entitled to representation and to translation facilities given that she was being asked to attend a dismissal hearing.

Ms Rafter said Ms Perenc was accompanied at the disciplinary meetings by a colleague and said that her English language skills were a “good seven or eight out of 10”.

‘Excellent record’

EAT chairwoman Penelope McGrath said it appeared that Ms Perenc had an “excellent service record” and that her dismissal was solely based “on this one incident”.

Ms McGrath put it to Ms Rafter that prior to the incident she had no difficulties with Ms Perenc as an employee and that there appeared to be “nobody batting” for her in the hearings.

Ms Rafter responded by stating that the company had a “zero tolerance” approach to selling alcohol to minors.

The case was adjourned until May 20th.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times