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Mayo retailer to pay €20,000 to woman who was unfairly dismissed in dispute over 12 ham slices

Details of the case was heard at the Labour Court.
Jul 18th 2019, 6:13 PM 69,215 0

A MAYO RETAILER has been left with a €20,000 bill after unfairly dismissing a female employee in a dispute concerning 12 slices of ham.

It follows a Labour Court determination that Sloneczko Ltd, trading as the Breadski Brothers, should pay €20,000 to sacked sales assistant, Agnieszka Kopacz.

The Labour Court made the ruling after finding that the Castlebar-based Breadski Brothers unfairly dismissed Kopacz in May 2017.

Deputy chairwoman at the Labour Court, Louise O’Donnell determined that Kopacz’s complaint of unfair dismissal was well founded.

The ruling overturned an earlier ruling by an Adjudication Officer at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), who found that the dismissal was not unfair.

The WRC made its decision after the bread business showed CCTV from 28 January 2017 showing Kopacz slicing ham at the shop’s deli counter when serving a customer.

The footage showed Kopacz slice 10 slices of ham and print a label, before slicing 12 more slices of ham and adding them to the package.

Kopacz then placed the label printed earlier on the outside of the package.

She had worked for the company since 2011 before her May 2017 dismissal.

Breach of honesty

MD of the business, Marcin Chlebitzki, told the Labour Court that he made the decision to dismiss Kopacz and that his decision was based on a breach of honesty and loyalty and that he did not consider any other options.

Kopacz told the Labour Court that she was not afforded fair procedures and that she believed that the issues only arose because she had made a bullying complaint.

On the allegations concerning the ham, Kopacz explained to the Labour Court that customers would sometimes ask for €5 worth of meat instead of a certain number of slices.

She said this required a sales assistant to put in a code before slicing and weighing the meat, which sometimes was is not enough, requiring the addition of more slices.

She said that when the correct amount was sliced, it was standard practice to print the label, adding that this was what she did on the day in question.

The Labour Court found that it was clear that there was confusion in relation to the allegations against Kopacz, up until and during the two-day Labour Court hearing.

Changed allegations

Deputy chairwoman at the Labour Court, Louise O’Donnell said that the allegations against Kopacz were initially in relation to serving her husband, before changing at the preliminary stage into an allegation that she had, in effect, stolen some slices of meat.

She said that it was not disputed that the meat was paid for, as receipts were relied upon by the Breadski Brothers, who submitted that the incorrect weight for the meat was on the receipt.

O’Donnell also found that the court could not view the dismissal as fair when it considered all of the circumstances in the case.

In relation to the reasonableness of the dismissal, she said that Chlebitzki could not tell the court how he had come to a decision to dismiss Kopacz, other than to say that it was related to honesty and loyalty and that he had not considered other sanctions.

O’Donnell found that Kopacz suffered financial loss as a result of the wrong she suffered.

She said: “The Court considers it just and equitable in all the circumstances of this case to award the complainant compensation in the sum of €20,000.”

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Gordon Deegan

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