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Unfair Dismissal

Lifeguard awarded €27,500 after being sacked for walking out of aqua aerobics class

Confusion about lifeguard to swimmer ratio led to the dismissal.

A LIFEGUARD HAS been awarded €27,500 by the Employment Appeals Tribunal after being dismissed for walking out on an aqua aerobics class.

The incident happened when the claimant in the case, Gary Raleigh, left the pool deck when there was up to 30 people participating in the class.

This was seen to be contrary to the pool’s safety policy and Raleigh was suspended with pay before being dismissed from his position.

How did this come about? 

Prior to the incident, the claimant’s employer, Aura Sport and Leisure Management Ltd, had always been pleased with his performance during his five years working at the company.

When the incident happened, the person giving the aqua aerobics class was also a qualified lifeguard. The issue was with the ratios, and the management at the pool stated that with more than 30 people in the pool there should be two lifeguards supervising.

CCTV footage supposedly showed that there may have been around 35 people in the pool.

The claimant was not aware that there was a ratio policy and claimed to have never been informed about it.

During his period away from the pool the claimant went to a cooler part of the building and carried out a number of other tasks.

At the tribunal, the swimming pool produced two documents outlining ratios for lifeguards. One from 2011 stated that there should be one lifeguard for every 30 swimmers, while a second document from April 2012 stated that an aqua aerobics class can have one lifeguard for every 40 swimmers.

How did it end? 

It was decided by the tribunal that the dismissal was unfair. The instructions given to the lifeguard in relation to staffing levels were said to be “confusing at best”.

The tribunal accepted that there was no evidence that the claimant had carried out “gross misconduct”.

As such he was given the award of €27,500 under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 to 2007.

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

Also: Forklift driver sacked for driving into doors awarded €15,000

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