Gresham waitress let customer leave without paying bill

HR manager tells Employment Appeals Tribunal waitress breached company’s trust

The HR manager of the Gresham Hotel met Aisling O’Brien twice, and on August 6th, 2014, she was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct

The HR manager of the Gresham Hotel met Aisling O’Brien twice, and on August 6th, 2014, she was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct

 

A waitress who worked at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin for more than a decade was fired after allowing a customer to leave without paying a drinks bill because she did not want them to feel embarrassed, a tribunal has heard.

Aisling O’Brien was dismissed over the delayed payment of a bill that amounted to just over €60, the Employment Appeals Tribunal heard on Wednesday. Ms O’Brien paid for the drinks herself the next day.

On Saturday, July 5th, 2014, a party of six enjoyed cocktails at a lounge in the hotel. Ms O’Brien served the party, one of whom was a former colleague.

When the party were getting ready to leave, the credit card of Ms O’Brien’s friend did not work. She did not want her friend to feel embarrassed, so it was agreed she would return to make a payment the following day.

Instead Ms O’Brien rang in to work the following day to pay for the drinks. She gave details of the order to one of her colleagues over the phone, telling her that the order amounted to €63.55. Ms O’Brien then made the payment using her own credit card.

After the incident, the food and beverages manager of the hotel at the time, Greg Forrestal, asked Ms O’Brien to attend a meeting to discuss this matter, and informed her that she was suspended with full pay. After two more meetings, Mr Forrestal referred the matter to the HR department.

Sharon Coleman, the hotel’s HR manager, met Ms O’Brien twice, and on August 6th, 2014, Ms O’Brien was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

Complaint

Ms O’Brien later made a complaint of unfair dismissal against the hotel, which was represented by Michael McGrath of Ibec at the hearing.

Ms Coleman told the tribunal that Ms O’Brien had taken the booking for the party, had served them, had not logged their drinks order on to the till system, and had then allowed them leave the hotel without taking payment. She said Ms O’Brien, who had worked at the hotel for more than 10 years, had breached the company’s trust.

“Our trust had been broken,” Ms Coleman told the tribunal. “We have to have a huge amount of trust in all our staff.”

Under cross-examination by Ms O’Brien’s representative, Siptu’s Hugh Hegarty, Ms Coleman admitted that the first time Ms O’Brien was verbally informed of the fact that she could potentially be dismissed was on August 6th, 2014, the day she was dismissed.

The hearing continues.