Workplace Relations Commission

Warehouse worker on €37k fired for drinking a €2 soft drink and putting it back

The Workplace Relations Commission said that it was a case of “gross misconduct, irrespective of the monetary value”.

A WAREHOUSE OPERATIVE was dismissed from his €37,585 post after being found to take and consume half the contents of a soft-drink bottle costing less than €2 while on the job.

The worker sued for unfair dismissal but the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has found that the warehousing and distribution company was fair in sacking the man.

In the case, WRC Adjudication Officer, Roger McGrath found that the worker on 14 February 2017 took a soft drink from a pallet in the warehouse and consumed half the contents of the bottle before putting it back on the pallet.

McGrath agreed with the employer that the worker’s actions “has constituted gross misconduct irrespective of the monetary value”.

The Adjudication Officer also agreed with the employer that the bond of trust has been irrevocably broken thus warranting dismissal.

The firm did state that the worker did have a good employment record prior to the incident that led to his dismissal.

The employer stated that after a thorough investigation, disciplinary meeting and appeal the worker was adjudged to have consumed and damaged product from the warehouse which was due to be delivered to a customer.

The employer stated: “A person with over ten years’ experience would fully understand that allowing damaged product to go to a retailer would have a significant effect on the relationship with the customer and the overall business.”

The employer stated that the worker’s actions amounted to gross misconduct and that it was the employer’s position is that “any type of theft cannot be tolerated”.

The WRC report states that in recent years, five employees have been dismissed for theft.

The worker denied drinking from the soft drink bottle at all times and denied any wrong-doing.

The worker stated that there was no CCTV evidence directly implicating him and that the company was relying on pre- and post-loading condition of the case of soft drinks as the only evidence of any wrong doing.

The firm carried out a re-enactment of the incident involving the Line Manager who made the original complaint over the worker drinking the soft drink.

The worker stated that the re-enactment was prejudicial as he wasn’t involved in it but that the Line Manager was involved.

The worker stated that the person who carried out the appeal relied on the re-enactment exercise to uphold the dismissal.

The worker’s legal representative also argued that even if his client was to admit to the allegation, which he doesn’t, then he was guilty of a minor breach of causing minor damage to property.

The legal representative also stated that if there is any doubt as to which category of misconduct the alleged behaviour falls into then the worker should receive the benefit of the doubt having regard to his 11 years of service.

The worker also argued that the monetary value of the damage to property must be a valid consideration it comes to the employer’s assessment.

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