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Bus driver, who lost job after requesting CCTV which showed him on phone while driving, reinstated

The man had requested the footage in order to prove he had been verbally abused by a manager.

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A BUS DRIVER, who lost his job two years ago after CCTV footage he had requested to view showed him speaking on the phone while driving, has had his job reinstated.

The man was also awarded back pay of his salary since his dismissal in August 2016.

He had taken his case of unfair dismissal to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which ruled in his favour.

The man had first requested to see the relevant CCTV footage after he claimed he had been verbally abused a number of times by his manager in one day.

His request to view the footage stemmed from a desire to prove that the abuse had in fact taken place.

However, the resultant footage showed the man speaking briefly on his phone while the bus was in motion with him at the wheel.

Gross misconduct

The bus company subsequently dismissed him for gross misconduct.

At the WRC, the man claimed that he had only been driving the bus for a matter of five seconds while occupying a parking space vacated by another bus.

He said that the punishment didn’t fit the crime, as he had been accepting an emergency call from his wife in the minutes before he was due to start work, and that he would never ordinarily have answered his phone while in command of a bus.

He had no passengers on board at the time, and was in a car park.

The man’s wife is also a professional driver and aware of the inappropriateness of using a phone while driving, and had only called because of the emergency nature of the situation, he said.

He said it was the first such emergency call he had ever received from his wife. He appealed the decision to dismiss him in September 2016 but lost that appeal .

The bus company argued in response that, in being observed using his mobile while driving, the man had been in clear breach of its mobile phone policy.

Breach

It said that once it saw that he had been in breach of that policy, it had no choice but to invoke its disciplinary procedures.

In his ruling, WRC adjudication officer Andrew Heavey stated that he had reviewed the CCTV in question, and had concluded that the movement of the bus was indeed “a brief move forward, for a minimal number of seconds”.

He suggested that the situation was entirely different from one involving a full bus on a public road.

“I do not accept that the actions of the complainant were such that it warranted summary dismissal for gross misconduct,” Heavey said.

He added that having the operations manager conduct both the investigation and disciplinary processes in relation to the incident, as the company had done, was “less than best practice”.

He also suggested that, in issuing a letter upholding the decision to dismiss the man on the same day as his appeal, the company  gave “little consideration to the complainant’s grounds of appeal”. He said that the company’s actions were “disproportionate to the matter at hand”.

Heavey concluded that the appropriate response was to reinstate the man to his job, with all salary due to him since 24 August 2016 to be paid retroactively.

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