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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# Kitchen Nightmare
Chef, sacked after threatening porter who called him a motherf**er, awarded €6,000 for unfair dismissal
The Workplace Relations Commission has found that the man was unfairly dismissed.

shutterstock_700477357 Shutterstock / Wasant Shutterstock / Wasant / Wasant

A CHEF WHO told a kitchen porter that he would kill him while holding a knife in his hand has been awarded €6,000 for his unfair dismissal.

In the case, the kitchen porter endured a ‘kitchen nightmare’ after the chef told him ‘I will kill you’ with the knife in his hand.

As a result of the confrontation between the two on 27 July 2017 in a hotel kitchen, the hotel sacked the chef for gross misconduct on 30 August last.

The kitchen porter told an internal investigation that the chef told him that if he called the chef a motherf***er again he would kill him.

The chef said that he was provoked as the kitchen porter had used offensive words relating to his deceased mother while one witness saw the chef point the knife at the kitchen porter’s face.

He said that he picked up the knife and then put it down as soon as the kitchen porter was told to go away.

Unfairly dismissed

The chef sued for unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has found that he was unfairly dismissed and has awarded him €6,000.

WRC Adjudication Officer Eugene Hanly found that “the decision to dismiss was disproportionate as the punishment did not fit the crime”.

Hanly found that in the incident the kitchen porter used provocative language to the chef and that the chef became very upset in response about a reference to his mother who was deceased.

Hanly found that the altercation took place between the two and that the chef said – with a knife in his hand – that he used the words “I will kill you”.

He noted that the hotel formed the view that this was a serious threat whereas the chef referred to it as an empty threat.

The adjudication officer said that having viewed the CCTV footage, the footage did not convey a seriously dangerous situation.

Hanly said that he did not form the view that the chef had intended to kill the kitchen porter.

Physical threats

He said that the chef had been in that employment since September 2002 and there were no other incidents of physical threats referred to.

He noted that the kitchen porter did not file a complaint about the incident.

Hanly found that the decision to dismiss was substantively unfair but that the chef had contributed significantly to his dismissal.

The Adjudication Officer also found that the dismissal was procedurally unfair concerning the man’s employer not properly considering the provocation in the case and the consideration of alternatives to dismissal.

The chef told the WRC that since the hearing, he “has had great difficulty in getting work”.

He told the hearing that he has applied to an average of ten positions per week and found work for six weeks over the Christmas period.