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Dublin hotel manager told to 'return to Africa' after contracting TB

Some staff at the hotel resented being compulsorily tested for the disease after the man’s diagnosis, an employment hearing was told.

Image: Shutterstock/Everything

A DUBLIN HOTEL manager was told in an anonymous letter to return to Africa after he contracted tuberculosis, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has heard.

The man, who took extended sick leave in the summer of 2014, unsuccessfully brought an unfair dismissal case to the EAT after being summarily dismissed in October of that year for threatening to hit another manager at the company.

The claimant had been employed there since August 2013 as a food and beverage manager, in effect the second most senior management position in the hotel.

The EAT was told he had returned to work after a long sick absence, during which he received “borderline hostile” comments about his diagnosis.

Some employees at the hotel who were compulsorily tested for tuberculosis resented being exposed to the infectious disease and blamed the claimant, the EAT heard.

The EAT accepted that the claimant was “made to feel badly for what had happened” and noted that he had received at least one anonymous letter which suggested he and his family “return to Africa and take their disease with them”.

The hotel launched an investigation after the claimant communicated his upset at the pressure put on him by colleagues both known and unknown.

A medical expert was invited to give a talk to employees about the disease, which the claimant acknowledged did serve to reassure people.

The author of the anonymous note was never discovered, despite CCTV footage appearing to point to one person.

Threats

The claimant said in evidence that he had a good working relationship with the general manager of the hotel but that he believed the company applied double standards in its treatment of employees.

In October 2014, the general manager reprimanded the claimant over issues relating to the cleaning and maintenance of food and beverage areas. The discussion between the two men escalated and the claimant was unhappy about being criticised, the EAT heard.

When the general manager left the hotel, the claimant told two of their colleagues, in two separate conversations about 24 hours apart, that he would hit him.

The general manager was informed of the threats and the claimant was dismissed following an investigative and disciplinary process.

In a recent judgement, the EAT said it found the claimant to be “a reasonable and honest” witness who deeply regretted his actions and was under unusual outside pressure at the time of the incident.

However, it ruled that the investigation leading to the man’s dismissal was conducted fairly on balance and that he had behaved in an “indefensible” way that breached the trust that had been placed in him as a senior manager.

Read: Tesco ordered to pay former worker €41,000 after her dismissal for not paying for a fried breakfast

Read: Lifeguard awarded €27,500 after being sacked for walking out of aqua aerobics class

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Catherine Healy

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