Worker sacked over horseplay awarded €5,400 and reinstated

Employment Appeals Tribunal says Suir Pharma’s treatment of employee blatantly unfair

The EAT said no reasonable employer would have arrived at the conclusions that Suir Pharma Ireland Ltd arrived at when dismissing Michael Last.

The EAT said no reasonable employer would have arrived at the conclusions that Suir Pharma Ireland Ltd arrived at when dismissing Michael Last.

 

A tribunal has awarded €5,400 to a worker who was unfairly dismissed after being involved in a horseplay incident where he made a reflex reaction to being struck in the groin area with a towel.

In a rare move, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has also ordered Michael Last be re-instated in his job with Suir Pharma Ireland Ltd.

In its ruling, the EAT stated Mr Last “was blatantly treated in an unfair fashion” when he was dismissed in October 2014.

The tribunal stated it was satisfied a level of horseplay was tolerated in the workplace and, had, on at least one occasion, been characterised as “high spirits” by Suir Pharma Ireland Ltd.

The tribunal said it suspected other factors were at play in the decision to dismiss Mr Last.

The EAT said no reasonable employer would have arrived at the conclusions that the firm arrived at nor would a reasonable employer have felt it necessary to treat Mr Last in the manner in which he was treated.

The EAT said for the firm to act as it did was equally unfair to Mr M - the other party to the horseplay incident - “as he has clearly been left to feel considerable guilt and responsibility” around Mr Last’s dismissal.

The tribunal stated it was impressed by the manner in which Mr M presented before the tribunal hearing that was held over three days in Thurles.

The tribunal said the Clonmel firm went into liquidation on June 13th last and the liquidator remains in place. The liquidation of the firm resulted in the loss of 134 jobs.

The EAT stated as result of the liquidation, re-instatement is the only remedy in the case that has the possibility of providing Mr Last with a level of redress as envisaged by existing Unfair Dismissal legislation.

The EAT stated Mr Last shall be entitled to apply for payment of the €5,400 through the Insolvency Payments Scheme.

The tribunal said while it might be argued that a work position must actually still exist within an employer’s organisation if there is to be re-instatement to that position, this tribunal considers it is not fettered in any way by this consideration where the employer is still in existence.

The tribunal said its orders shall be binding on the liquidator of the firm.