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Delivery driver whose kegs were stolen after he got a bike from a skip awarded €5k over his dismissal

The WRC adjudicated that his firing was “not within the band of reasonableness required of an employer”.

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Image: Getty Images/Mint Images RF

A DELIVERY DRIVER who was fired after the kegs he was delivering were stolen while he retrieved a bike from a skip has been awarded €5,000 over his unfair dismissal.

The man took his case to the Workplace Relations Commission, seeking reinstatement after his January 2017 dismissal.

The WRC adjudicated that his firing was “not within the band of reasonableness required of an employer” and “disproportionate to the gravity of the conduct” and awarded him €5,000, with reinstatement being deemed unfeasible.

The WRC case says that the man had been employed for over two years and had received a final written warning from the respondent on 23 November 2016, around two months before the incident, which happened on 9 January, 2017.

The complainant’s case says:

He and a colleague had gone to a hotel to deliver the kegs. En route his colleague telephoned the hotel to announce their delivery. They waited for someone to come out and sign the delivery docket. While waiting, the complainant noticed a good bike in the skip. His colleague climbed into the skip to remove the bike while the complainant stood on an empty keg at the back of the skip and lifted the bike out with his colleague’s assistance. He left the bike alongside the skip, clearly visible. Then they left the hotel premises.

The case is that the men did not receive a signature from the hotel for the kegs, which were subsequently stolen from outside the hotel.

The complainant was summoned to an investigation meeting and asked to answer the company’s charges that he had:

  • Failed to obtain a signature from a hotel on delivering goods
  • He breached health and safety regulations by standing on an empty keg to gain access to a skip at the respondent customer
  • He willingly engaged in activities that were not part of his duties while delivering kegs

CCTV

The man was shown the hotel’s CCTV footage, which he claimed he had not consented to being used.

The respondent’s transport manager advised at this investigative meeting that a person from the hotel had told the company afterwards that “[the] crew did not look for a signature and they had no authorisation to interfere with the skip”.

The complainant’s manager told him that he had brought the company into disrepute and his actions amounted to gross misconduct. He was suspended with pay.

The WRC case says that the man was summoned to a disciplinary hearing a few days later:

“He was not provided with a copy of the complaint submitted by the hotel to the respondent. At this meeting, he advised the respondent that his wife was 6 months pregnant with their first child, that his tenancy was insecure – the landlord wished to reclaim the property for his own use, they were seeking a mortgage and that anything that endangered his income would be disastrous for them.”

However, he was fired a few days later and given two weeks’ notice. An appeal was not upheld.

Respondent’s case

The company’s case was that the man’s conduct had been serious enough to warrant his dismissal.

“The respondent stated that they must demonstrate that they are capable of doing a job professionally. To do otherwise could endanger their contracts with the company. It was the hotel, the customer, who rang the client on whose behalf the respondent was delivering the kegs. That client then telephoned the respondent.

“The respondent stated that they cannot be guided by his family circumstances.”

The WRC’s adjudications officer found that while the lesser sanction of suspension without pay for a longer period than previously applied was available to the company, but was not used. It also cited other cases where people had kept their jobs despite serious breaches of conduct.

The officer for the WRC found:

“I decide that the decision to dismiss was not within the band of reasonableness required of an employer. The sanction of dismissal was disproportionate to the gravity of the conduct complained of. Therefore, he was unfairly dismissed.”

The man was awarded €5,000.

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