False claim of racial slur and statements made after dismissal leads to €9,000 for unfair dismissal

A bus driver was recently awarded the best part of €9,000 in an unfair dismissal claim against his former employer for gross misconduct.

The employer, Blue Line Coaches Limited, trading as Nolan Coaches, claimed the driver used a racial slur in describing a Chinese person as “a fat Chinese c***”.

But the WRC adjudicator, Kevin Baneham, determined that the statements made by the company in support of this accusation were likely to have been made at least a year after the alleged incident. And were made to add weight to their case.

The adjudicator rejected the racial slur as false and unsubstantiated and held that the driver, Martin Cormican, was unfairly dismissed. He held that Mr Cormican had simply misread a work docket which caused him to fail to collect passengers on their way to work. This led to his dismissal.

However, misreading a work docket is not gross misconduct sufficient to justify dismissal.

Mr Cormican was successful in getting new employment quickly after his dismissal. For this reason, his loss of earnings were only €1,200 and he was awarded this by the WRC.

But he was also awarded €7,728 in respect of lost accrued service bringing the total to €8,928.

Here is an extract from the WRC decision explaining the award of the €7,728 figure which is directly related to lost redundancy entitlements as a result of the dismissal:

The complainant found employment quickly, starting his new role on the 12th October 2020. He was paid two weeks of notice pay. I award the complainant two weeks of pay (€1,200), being the shortfall up to when he started new employment, taking account of the notice pay he received. The complainant is also entitled to ‘the value of any loss or diminution, attributable to the dismissal, of the rights of the employee under the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 1973’. This is calculated per the 10th October 2014 and the 14th September 2020 as the relevant dates and €600 as his weekly wage. There are no breaks in service and no contribution from the complainant to his dismissal. It is just and equitable that the complainant be compensated in full for the loss of the accrued service. This is €7,728.

The respondent shall pay to the complainant the sum of €1,200 and €7,728, which is €8,928.

Read the full decision in this case here (Martin Cormican v Blue Line Coaches limited t/a Nolan Coaches).

Loss of redundancy entitlements

Another example of this loss of redundancy entitlements being recognised by the WRC is in a case involving Richard Boyle & Sons of Castlemaine, Co Kerry and Mr Maunsell who was dismissed.

Read that decision here.