A senior National Car Test (NCT) tester who was sacked after testing his own car has been awarded €35,000 for unfair dismissal.
The firm that operates the NCT contract, Applus Car Testing Ltd, sacked Richard Godsland in 2013 for testing his own vehicle in March 2012.
At a hearing over two days in Dublin earlier this year, Mr Godsland denied he was ever informed that testing his own vehicle would result in his dismissal.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal found Mr Godsland’s action had the potential to embarrass Applus and to undermine its reputation if his action came to the attention of the external auditors.
Mr Godsland commenced employment as a vehicle inspector in June 2003 and was promoted to team leader in April 2005.
Applus told the hearing it was forbidden to test one’s own vehicle or one belonging to family members.
On June 21st, 2013, the Applus regional manager wrote to Mr Godsland inviting him to an investigative meeting concerning his testing of his own car.
The tribunal report on the case stated: “There was no explanation of how the matter came to his attention or why this action was being taken more than a year after the incident occurred.”
The report recorded the meeting was held on July 8th, 2013 and Mr Godsland accepted he had reassigned his car to be tested by himself, in “an effort to get things started early”.
A disciplinary meeting was held on August 15th, 2013, and it concluded with Mr Godsland being suspended with pay pending a final decision.
The regional manager wrote to him on August 16th informing him his employment would be terminated with effect from September 27th, 2013. Mr Godsland appealed the decision unsuccessfully.
The tribunal determined Mr Godsland testing the vehicle was contrary to the NCT Integrity Programme where it states, “if you have any history pertaining to a vehicle presented to you for a test, you must disclose this to your TL/Manager who will organise another inspector to test this vehicle”.
The tribunal said Mr Godsland’s action had the potential to embarrass Applus and to undermine its reputation if his action came to the attention of the external auditors. It said Applus had no option but to take serious issue with his action.
However, for more than a year, Applus “either remained unaware or overlooked the claimant’s action. In the tribunal’s view this delay undermines the decision to dismiss the claimant”.
The tribunal found that the dismissal of Mr Godsland was unfair and taking account of his contribution to his dismissal, it awarded him €35,000.