InBrief – Gross Misconduct and Fair Procedures
A care worker, who was dismissed by her employer for gross misconduct, has recently won a case of unfair dismissal, significantly in part, due to the former employer failing to adhere to a number of procedural processes prior to dismissal.
According to submissions before the Workplace Relations Commission (“WRC”), the carer left an elderly man, living by himself, “skint’’ with very little food and without any money for two days in his home, after taking €40 from the man to do his shopping.
The carer was sacked by her employer for gross misconduct after admitting she left her client with no money on Tuesday, March 8th, 2016. When she had not completed his shopping two days later, she was suspended, being later dismissed for gross misconduct.
The WRC said it found it “alarming” the carer was aware during these days that her client “had very little food at home and had no money”. It recorded that the carer told her employer at an investigation meeting that her client “had milk, soup and a few slices of bread”. The WRC also found that “holding on to money in circumstances where the client needed to have shopping done and was ‘skint’ represents a breach on the part of the complainant”.
Despite the strong case against her, the WRC ruled that the carer was unfairly dismissed and awarded her €3,500, taking into account her contribution to her own dismissal.
The WRC found there were a number of fundamental flaws in the process that led to the carer’s dismissal. It found the employer had not discharged the legal burden of showing the dismissal was not unfair.
The woman was seeking re-instatement but the WRC stated it would not be appropriate.
This case serves as a reminder of the importance of following strict procedural processes prior to the termination of employment, under any circumstances.
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