Tesco ordered to pay €4,000 to worker sacked after taking wine bottle

Retail worker said she had forgotten to pay for the wine at the end of her shift

Tesco Ireland had appealed the Workplace Relations Commission ruling to the Labour Court.  File image: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Tesco Ireland had appealed the Workplace Relations Commission ruling to the Labour Court. File image: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

The Irish arm of retail giant Tesco has been ordered to pay €4,000 to a worker who was sacked after admitting to taking a bottle of wine out of a store without paying for it.

Retail worker Anne Faherty was dismissed by Tesco Ireland on March 29th 2016 arising from an incident on January 13th 2016 when she was intercepted by a security officer as she left the store at the end of her shift.

Ms Faherty had a bottle of wine in her bag valued at less than €20 which she had not paid for. She said she had forgotten to pay for the wine, and now she has successfully sued for unfair dismissal at the Labour Court which found the decision to dismiss her “was tainted with procedural unfairness”.

However, it also found Ms Faherty contributed substantially to her own dismissal and this had to be taken into account in measuring the quantum of compensation that should be awarded.

The Labour Court ordered Tesco Ireland to pay Ms Faherty €4,000 in a decision that upholds an earlier ruling made by an adjudication officer at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which Tesco Ireland had appealed.

In her evidence, Ms Faherty said that at around 5.45pm on January 13th 2016 she left her work station to select some items of personal shopping including two bottles of wine as she was due to finish her shift at 6pm.

Ms Faherty stated that in the course of that activity she encountered an acquaintance who had had a bereavement and whose mother was unwell. Ms Fah erty said that she was upset by the encounter.

Ms Faherty said she put one of the bottles of wine in her bag as she did not want to drop it.

The security guard then intercepted Ms Faherty after she left the store and she was escorted to an office where a duty manager attended and suspended Ms Faherty until further notice.

Ms Faherty stated that she had made a mistake concerning the bottle of wine as a result of the upset that she had experienced when she met an acquaintance.

In its submission, Tesco stated that CCTV footage clearly showed Ms Faherty removing a bottle of wine from the store without paying and that the footage showed no evidence of upset on the part of Ms Faherty following her conversation with an acquaintance in the store.

The Tesco-employed security guard told the Labour Court hearing that he took the decision not to call the Garda because the bottle concerned had a value of less than €20.

Tesco dismissed Ms Faherty for breach of its ‘honesty policy’ and its staff purchase policy and because the bond of trust between employee and employer had broken down.

In its findings, the Labour Court noted that at no stage of the investigative or disciplinary process was Ms Faherty supplied with a copy of Tesco’s honesty or staff purchase policies which she was contended to have breached.