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Unfair Dismissal

Bar manager sacked after his 11-year-old son was seen carrying pint glasses to customers awarded €3,270

The man had been working at the pub for 27 years.

A BAR MANAGER who was sacked after his 11-year-old son was seen carrying pint glasses and taking money from customers has been awarded €3,270 compensation.

The man, who had worked with the pub from July 1989 until October 2016 had taken a case to the Workplace Relations Commission over his dismissal.

The case heard that on the night of 16 October 2016, the man’s son was seen on the premises by customers, who informed the bar’s owners that they had considered calling the gardaí.

“The (bar owner) submitted that he reviewed coverage from a camera system on the premises and saw the child carrying full pint glasses of alcohol, taking money from customers, and bringing the money back to the complainant who was the child’s father. The (bar owner) also maintained that he has since learned this was not the first time that the child was on the premises by the complainant when he was working late night shifts, and that the (bar owner) had not been aware of this at the time.”

The bar owner, the WRC file says, saw this as a “serious breach of trust that would put his licence at risk”. He said that if the bar manager had told him of any childminding issues, he would have been at the bar himself.

The bar owner contended that the manager’s work had been an issue which included a door being left open after the manager left with money sitting in a safe. The manager had been suspended for eight weeks, though the bar owner accepted this had happened seven years previously.

“The (bar owner) also submitted that the complainant had previous issues with drink at work and where a number of disciplinary actions had previously been taken. It was contended that the alleged behaviour of the complainant included him having intercourse on the premises. The (bar owner) also advised that earlier in 2016 he introduced the complainant to Alcoholics Anonymous for assistance in lieu of suspending him, but that any ongoing assistance had been declined by the (bar owner). The (bar owner) further maintained that he would have had several conversations with the complainant in relation to the matter but to no avail.”

The bar owner said that the pub was not making money and he was not in a position to make the complainant redundant. He added the manager’s actions “presented a serious safety risk both to himself and to others in the pub” and the dismissal was proportionate.

Manager’s case

The manager’s case was that on the evening in question, he had received a call from his son who had returned from a birthday party, but that nobody was home, so he came around to the pub.

He said the boy was brought home two hours later.

He said that ten days later he was brought into a meeting with the bar owner and told to resign to protect his chances of getting another job elsewhere. He said he refused to resign and was dismissed on the spot. The WRC heard:

“He advised that he had 27-years’ service with the business and much of it as a bar manager. The complainant maintained he therefore deserved better treatment and a lesser sanction, and where he should have experienced a proper disciplinary procedure with natural justice. He also maintained he was unfairly dismissed and the real reason of his dismissal was to avoid paying him redundancy which would have reflected his 27 years of service.

“The complainant submitted that he was not provided any fair procedures or afforded an opportunity to appeal the decision to dismiss him. He also maintained that he was not aware of his rights at the time and that he was told that in view of what happened he was being sacked.”

In the WRC adjudication, it found that the dismissal due to the child being on the premises and serving alcohol was fair. However, it found that the man was not afforded proper procedures.

“I find that the complainant whilst conducting himself in a manner that might ordinarily be viewed as serious misconduct, was not afforded a fair procedure, or any investigation of the allegations. In effect he was dismissed following a meeting for which he was not informed the purpose of in advance of the meeting, and where a decision of gross misconduct, and therefore a decision to dismiss, had been made prior to the meeting. The (bar owner) has maintained it was the right decision to dismiss the complainant. However as the (bar owner) failed to apply its own procedures I therefore find the employer’s act by omitting to afford the Complainant a fair procedure was unreasonable and has contributed to the dismissal. I therefore find that the dismissal was unfair.”

The WRC ruled that the bar owner should pay €3,270 in compensation.