Performance review triggers psychiatric illness; non-payment for pack of cigarettes leads to Tesco paying €23,363 for unfair dismissal

Scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning I came across two interesting cases.

Performance review triggers psychiatric illness/disability

The first involved an employee who brought a successful claim for harassment on the grounds of disability. She had been subject to an unhappy performance review and was awarded €8,000 for the claim of harassment under the Employment Equality Act 1998.

At a meeting which she attended without notice she was criticised for being too slow in her work, compared to other members of staff and was asked how her parents would view her. She told the hearing that she never felt so humiliated in all her life and could not face her colleagues choosing to eat her lunch in her car before going out sick.

The harassment which the adjudicator found was the requirement on the employee to phone her workplace every week even though she was on sick leave. She had provided medical certificates to the employer to the effect that she was suffering from anxiety and depression and the obligation to ring her employer every week to “ring in sick” added to her stress.

Ringing in sick made no sense when she was submitting doctor’s certificates, the adjudicator found.

Read the full decision here.

Tesco manager failed to pay for pack of cigarettes

In this case the Tesco manager took a packet of cigarettes as his shift ended. He intended paying the next day, according to his evidence.

He was sacked for gross misconduct and breaches of the company policy about purchases and honesty.

The night manager argued his dismissal was disproportionate and denied theft claiming that he had completely forgot to pay. He intended paying the next day, but he was under pressure with domestic obligations such as dropping his partner to work and leaving children to the creche.

Tesco’s evidence was that once an employee had taken something without paying for it you simply could not trust that person again and you lose trust and confidence.

The manager succeeded with his claim on account of the oppressive way the matter was dealt with by Tesco. The first meeting with the manager lasted 5 hours and 20 minutes and did not adjourn even though the manager needed to go and pick up the children from childcare.

The adjudicator found that the disciplinary process was substantially and procedurally unfair, with the substantial unfairness flowing from the procedural defects.

This case is another warning to employers that the employee is entitled to fair procedures and natural justice no matter what the conduct he is accused of.

The manager was awarded 25% of the maximum possible award under the Unfair Dismissals Act as the adjudicator found that he contributed greatly to his own dismissal.

You can read a summary of that case here.