Supermac’s manager sacked over incidents that cost firm €2.75

Watchford Ltd to pay Linda O’Donoghue €19,000 over claim for constructive dismissal

A manager at a franchised Limerick Supermac’s outlet  lost her  post after failing to report two incidents that cost the firm €2.75. File photograph: Supermacs.ie

A manager at a franchised Limerick Supermac’s outlet lost her post after failing to report two incidents that cost the firm €2.75. File photograph: Supermacs.ie

 

A manager at a franchised Supermac’s outlet in Limerick lost her senior post after failing to inform her boss of two incidents that cost the firm €2.75.

However, the small company that operates two franchised Supermac’s outlets is counting the cost of its “harsh sanction” in constructively dismissing its long serving store manager, Linda O’Donoghue.

This follows the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ordering Watchford Ltd to pay Ms O’Donoghue €19,000 arising from her successful claim for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act.

The unnamed managing director of the Limerick firm relieved Ms O’Donoghue of her store manager role after finding her guilty of gross misconduct in November 2013.

This followed Ms O’Donoghue not informing her boss that a cashier at the company’s Dooradoyle outlet in July 2013 had given a large meal to a customer but only charged for a regular meal, resulting in a loss of 75c for the firm.

Ms O’Donoghue was not on duty at the time and was informed of the incident by the duty manager. Ms O’Donoghue gave the cashier a verbal warning after he told her the incident was a genuine mistake. The MD of the firm was on holidays at the time.

In the second incident, on November 25th, 2013, the same cashier gave his niece a free drink worth €2 and the cashier later put the €2 into the till for the drink.

‘Too late’

However, when the cashier told the duty manager what he had done, the duty manager took the €2 out of the till and threw it at the cashier, saying it was “too late”.

Ms O’Donoghue was not working on that date either, but the cashier came in the following day on his day off to tell her what had occurred.

The duty manager who told the cashier it was “too late” was not working on November 26th, and Ms O’Donoghue intended to speak to him about the matter.

However, at 4.15pm on November 26th, the MD called Ms O’Donoghue to his office.

The MD had been informed of the two incidents by a duty manager, and he wanted to investigate why Ms O’Donoghue had not informed him of them.

According to the EAT, the MD asked Ms O’Donoghue if she was familiar with company policy regarding theft and Ms O’Donoghue confirmed she was.

Ms O’Donoghue apologised and accepted that maybe she should have handled the matter differently.

She agreed with the MD that the incident in July should have been reported to him and that the cashier should have been dismissed for theft.

During cross-examination at the EAT, the MD confirmed the company does not have a written policy in respect of differentiating between theft and mistakes.

‘Less senior position’

The MD issued Ms O’Donoghue with a letter stating that he was relieving her of her duties immediately but further stated that he was “…prepared to offer you a less senior management position in our Ennis Road branch at the relevant pay structure”.

The managing director stated this was not a letter of dismissal.

Ms O’Donoghue said she never had any disciplinary issues in 19 years’ service with the firm.

Ms O’Donoghue told the EAT she would not allow anyone to give food away and the cashier had told her it was a genuine mistake on his part.

In relation to the July incident, Ms O’Donoghue said she had informed the MD’s “right-hand man”, while concerning the November incident, she had intended to inform the MD as soon as she had spoken to the duty manager on duty and gotten his version of events.

Ms O’Donoghue told the EAT she considered herself dismissed.

Unblemished record

In its determination, the EAT noted Ms O’Donoghue’s long and unblemished record working with the firm.

The EAT stated the MD found Ms O’Donoghue guilty of gross misconduct, and handed her a letter of disciplinary sanction that he admitted had been prepared before the meeting commenced.

The tribunal stated it is satisfied that Ms O’Donoghue is entitled to consider herself constructively dismissed by virtue of the lack of fair procedures, her employer’s failure to follow its own stated procedures, the defective investigation and disciplinary process and the harsh sanction applied, relative to the circumstances.

Ms O’Donoghue has since secured alternative employment.