Security guard who switched off body cam during assault unfairly dismissed

Man sacked after camera turned off while colleague allegedly assaulted drug addict

A hospital security guard who was sacked for switching off his body camera while a colleague carried out an alleged unprovoked assault on a drug addict in a Dublin hospital toilet, has been awarded €6,500 over his unfair dismissal. Image: iStock.

A hospital security guard who was sacked for switching off his body camera while a colleague carried out an alleged unprovoked assault on a drug addict in a Dublin hospital toilet, has been awarded €6,500 over his unfair dismissal. Image: iStock.

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A hospital security guard who was sacked for switching off his body camera while a colleague carried out an alleged unprovoked assault on a drug addict in a Dublin hospital toilet, has been awarded €6,500 over his unfair dismissal.

The man sued for unfair dismissal and the case was considered by Penelope McGrath, a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer.

Ms McGrath reported that on November 13th last, the security guard was called to an incident where drug addicts were “shooting up” in the hospital’s public toilets.

The security guard switched his body camera on and Ms McGrath accepted that he wanted to capture the situation in real time and show that they were dealing with individuals who were carrying “sharpies”.

He pointed his camera into the cubicle to show the presence of the needles and other paraphernalia. Things then got heated as the three in the cubicle became belligerent about being moved on.

Ms McGrath accepted that the footage showed one of the security guard’s colleagues hitting one of the “interlopers” and that it was “at just this point the complainant turned off the recording device”.

‘Provocation’

“The hit does not appear to have been in self-defence and this was not suggested to me. I heard nothing about provocation or otherwise,” she noted, adding that the sacked man was not involved in any physical altercation.

The unnamed company sacked the man, an employee of nine years, for switching off his camera during a live recording of an extremely serious workplace incident. He put forward no excuse for turning off the camera.

Ms McGrath said she was conscious that the security guard “failed his employer” and sought to protect the perpetrator by turning off his camera. His actions demonstrated a lack of judgement, she said.

“Only for the fact that there were wall mounted cameras in the vicinity, the full picture might never have been known to the employer,” she said.

Ms McGrath said she accepted that the damage to reputation and the potential insurance fallout had to be primary considerations for the employer.

However, she found in favour of the man, noting that it was an unfair dismissal due to “wholly inadequate procedures” and “lack of fairness” shown to him in the internal disciplinary and investigation process that followed.

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