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A cleaner who was sacked after burning toast wins €25k compensation

The toast set off a fire alarm at the Guinness Storehouse.

Image: Shutterstock/baimaple

A CLEANER WHO was sacked for causing a fire alarm to go off after she burnt toast at the Guinness Storehouse has been awarded €25,000 in compensation.

Jane Callaghan had been employed by OCS One Complete Solution Ltd for 13 years before she lost her job over the burnt toast incident.

The incident happened on 2 April 2014 when Callaghan was working at an event where there were 360 guests.

During the evening, the woman was taking a break in the executive suite of the storehouse.

Although she did not have permission to use the suite, she explained that staff regularly used it instead of the designated break cabin because it was untidy and rats were in the area.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard that, when making toast in the executive suite, the bread became jammed in the toaster causing it to burn and activating the fire alarm.

OCS said that the alarm system has a 2.5 minute pre-warning system that allows staff to inform the control room of the specific problem before the system goes into full evacuation mode.

The company argued that Callaghan knew about this but did not use her radio to contact the control room. Instead, she panicked and left the suite, allowing the alarm system to become fully activated.

The alarm was subsequently stopped by a manager before there was any evacuation.

In a disciplinary hearing three weeks later, Callaghan admitted that she was wrong to use the toaster in the executive suite and expressed remorse.

Despite Callaghan having no previous disciplinary issues, the company said the incident represented gross misconduct and she was dismissed with immediate effect.

Having heard all the evidence, the Employment Appeals Tribunal found the dismissal to be unfair.

It said that the company was aware that Callaghan and other staff used the executive suite and it was condoned by supervisors, even if it was not expressly permitted.

“It was reasonably foreseeable that by permitting the staff to use the facility that toast could burn, therefore to chastise the claimant for this was unfair,” the tribunal found.

The woman was awarded compensation of €25,000.

Read: Former security guard gets €12,000 compensation over post-pregnancy roster changes >

Read: Dublin hotel manager told to ‘return to Africa’ after contracting TB >

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Rónán Duffy

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