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Gym worker who yawned and 'rolled on floor' in front of members awarded €1,420 for unfair dismissal

The case was taken after the complainant alleged that he was bullied and undermined by his manager before he was sacked.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock

A GYM RECEPTIONIST who was sacked after being accused of yawning and rolling on the ground in front of customers has been awarded €1,420 by the Workplace Relations Commission.

The receptionist took a case to the commission after alleging that he was unfairly dismissed in November 2017 on foot of a number of incidents.

Presenting his case to the commission, the complainant said that after being “undermined and intimidated” by his manager, he submitted a formal complaint of bullying on 14 November, 2017.

The complaint was initially submitted to his manager’s mother, who he believed was a director of the gym, but the following day, he received an email from his manager’s brother to inform him that he was taking over the investigation.

On 29 November, the complainant was told there was insufficient evidence to prove that any bullying had taken place, and was informed by his manager the following day that his employment had been terminated due to gross misconduct.

Negative review

The complainant told the commission that he had received no written warnings about his behaviour, and believed that a proper disciplinary procedure had not been carried out by his former employer.

In its response, the gym said that the former receptionist had been dismissed for falsifying time sheets when he was 15 minutes late for work on two occasions in October 2017.

A representative for the gym also described how a negative review of the gym appeared on the internet in September 2017, which was brought to the attention of management by another employee.

The review was posted by an unknown person using the same initials as the complainant’s, and the gym said that, although it had no proof the complainant was responsible, it began monitoring his performance.

The gym claimed that it soon noted a number of issues with the receptionist, including that he let people use its facilities without checking them in, resulting in financial loss to the business.

It also alleged that the complainant would use his phone during his shift, and that he had rolled around on the ground in front of customers.

Phone charger

The complainant was asked to attend a meeting on 26 October, attended by his manager and the manager’s mother, when he was told that his performance was being monitored.

The complainant was subsequently called to a disciplinary meeting on 17 November, when several instances of minor, major and gross misconduct were identified.

He was accused of leaving weights and bars on the ground of the gym, which it was claimed presented a trip hazard, being late and falsifying his timesheets, and not checking people into the gym.

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The complainant was also accused of being on his phone “so much [he] had to charge it”, yawning in front of a member of the gym, and “rolling up and down on the ground behind the desk”.

At the meeting, the complainant was informed that he was suspended with pay until the gym decided which course of action to take, before he was dismissed on 30 November.

In its response, an adjudicator for the Commission found that even if the complainant was late twice and failed to amend his timesheets accordingly – which did not necessarily happen – a decision to dismiss him was not a reasonable response.

The commission found that the gym “showed little regard to the principles of fair procedures and natural justice”, noting that the complainant’s bullying case was investigated by the person he was accusing and that he was not interviewed as part of it.

The complaint was therefore considered to be well-founded, and the commission ordered the gym to award the former receptionist €1,420.

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