Man sacked for delivering box of own faeces to pharmacy by mistake

Delivery man ‘taken short for toilet’ during work fails in unfair dismissal action

A delivery man was sacked after defecating into a medicines container and later delivering the container to a Limerick city pharmacy by mistake.

The details have come to light following the publication of a ruling in an action for unfair dismissal taken by the delivery man John Flood. He failed in his unfair dismissal action against his former employer, Limerick Pharma Logistics at the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT).

It found, in a ruling just published, that the decision by the company to sack Mr Flood in November 2014 was an appropriate sanction.

He was sacked after an incident on April 24th, 2014, that arose from him being unable to control his bowel movements.

After making his first delivery of the day in the north Co Cork village of Kildorrery Mr Flood was en route to his next customer when he "got taken short for a toilet" and relieved himself of a bowel movement into an empty blue tote that was in the back of his van. Totes are hard plastic containers used by pharmacy suppliers to deliver medicines.

Mr Flood said he intended to deal with the contents of the tote when he retuned home and completed his morning run.

However, he “got caught up in other activities” and forgot to deal with it and left the offending tote in the van for the evening run when he made the “awful mistake” of delivering the blue tote containing his faeces to a Limerick city centre pharmacy.

Shocked staff at the pharmacy contacted the operations manager of the pharmaceutical firm the drugs had come from via the delivery man, after getting an “unpleasant smell” from the container.

The operations manager travelled to the pharmacy and opened the tote with a pharmacist to find what Mr Flood had left behind.

When Mr Flood was alerted he telephoned the operations manager of the pharmaceutical firm to apologise and said “he could not believe that he had made an awful mistake”.

Mr Flood was suspended immediately without pay and Limerick Pharma Logistics appointed a HR specialist to carry out an investigation.

At a subsequent meeting with his employer, Mr Flood said he suffered from a bowel condition called colitis. He said the condition was under control and he had been weaned off his medication.

The pharmaceutical firm whose drugs were being delivered told delivery firm Limerick Pharma Logistics that Mr Flood could no longer undertake any business on its behalf or enter its premises.

At a disciplinary meeting in June 2014, Limerick Pharma Logistics put it to Mr Flood that he could resign or he would be let go as re-assigning him was not an option. Mr Flood went on sick leave and was sacked in November 2014.

Mr Flood believed he had been badly treated by Limerick Pharma Logistics and that procedures had not been followed correctly. He felt he had not been issued with any warnings.

The tribunal stated that sacking Mr Flood was an appropriate sanction, especially in the context of Mr Flood’s experience and familiarity with the standards expected by Limerick Pharma Logistics and the firm’s single client - the pharmaceutical firm.

Mr Flood was himself a director and shareholder of Limerick Pharma Logistics.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times