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Boss attacked me for moving beer bottles too early in the morning, sacked worker claims

Former luxury hotel worker Eugene Young was awarded €30,000 for unfair dismissal.
Aug 2nd 2015, 7:30 AM 43,816 33

A HOTEL WORKER who was fired after a fight over beer bottles has been awarded €30,000 for unfair dismissal by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Eugene Young was sacked by Castle Durrow, a luxury hotel in Co Laois, following a run-in with a managing director who objected to him loading bottles and kegs into a van before 10am.

Company management had instructed employees not to do any early morning work that might disturb guests.

But Young, who had worked in the hotel as a labourer for 13 years, said the guest room close to where he was working had already been vacated.

He claimed the managing director pushed him in the chest during a verbal altercation that arose as a result of the work he was doing.

The director, however, denied losing his temper with the employee, saying the claimant had become angry after being told to stop working and lunged at him with a keg, pushing him onto a flower bed.

Later in the day, the pair met in the laundry area, where Young claimed the director spat into his face and asked him for the keys to the van.

The director, on the other hand, claimed the only aggression during the meeting came from the claimant, who he said pushed him with his chest.

‘Beating his chest like a baboon’

Young returned to work the following day, having reported the alleged attack to the gardaí.

He sought an apology from the hotel’s financial controller, who refused to engage with him on account of his behaviour, which she said frightened her.

The controller described Young as acting “like a bull”, “beating his chest like a baboon”, but he denied shouting at her.

The managing director, on hearing of the incident, advised the worker to get off the hotel grounds and not to speak to anyone as he left.

Young refused to attend two meetings organised after that date, as he objected to the director chairing them.

Having first been suspended without pay, he was subsequently dismissed for aggressive behaviour and failing to engage in the company’s disciplinary process.

Dismissed without fair procedure

In a recent judgement, the Employment Appeals Tribunal ruled that the claimant was dismissed without fair procedure.

It said it was inappropriate for the disciplinary process to be conducted by the managing director with whom the employee had had a dispute.

The tribunal said it could not blame the Young for “failing to engage with such a fundamentally flawed process”.

It added that there were issues with the credibility of aspects of the company’s evidence and that the claimant’s version of events was likely closer to the truth.

Read: Man fired after ‘petty’ warnings over coffee drinking and dish washing >

Column: Here’s what it’s really like to work in an Irish factory >

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Catherine Healy

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