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Dismissal of Mothercare worker over unauthorised refunds was fair

When questioned, the woman could not explain why there were transactions when there were no customers at the counter.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE EMPLOYMENT APPEALS Tribunal has found that the dismissal of an employee in a Mothercare store was fair.

The assistant store manager became concerned about the woman’s handling of refunds and CCTV footage showed possible irregularities in 24 transactions. The operations controller met with her to discuss the four most recent incidents.

In all four cases, there was no customer or product at the counter at the time of the transaction and customer details were either invalid, illegible or missing entirely from the receipts.

The employee was unable to give any satisfactory explanation for these discrepancies over the course of a number of meetings and an internal investigation. She was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

In her evidence, she said the operations controller had called her after Christmas that year asking her to work on Sundays but she did not want to. She claims he told her she was taking off too many days together and was rude and aggressive on the phone.

She wanted this noted in his file and she said the decision to dismiss her was disproportionate. The woman said a redeployment or demotion would have been more appropriate.

She also said she was not aware of the seriousness of the situation.

In her decision, chairperson of the tribunal KT O’Mahoney said:

Trust and confidence are essential elements in the employment relationship and a particularly high level of trust and confidence is reposed in a manager, who is responsible for implementing store policy. Breaching the refunds procedure and the failure to offer any satisfactory or any explanation for these breaches destroyed that trust and confidence and constituted gross misconduct warranting summary dismissal.

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She said the tribunal did not accept the woman was unaware of the seriousness of what was happening as letters inviting her to the investigation meeting were clear on this.

For these reasons, the tribunal unanimously found the dismissal was fair.

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