A SUPERMARKET worker who was dismissed for “taking advantage” of a pricing error – when it was her job to inform management of same – has been awarded €750 for unfair dismissal.
Janet Sheehan, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, took the action against Tesco arguing the actions taken by the retail giant were disproportionate; took no account of her unblemished 14-year work history and correct procedures had not been followed.
Ms Sheehan did not dispute the central facts of the case. She was employed as a systems checker at Tesco Arthur’s Quay and on November 6, 2009, she became aware of a pricing error on a promotion for detergent.
She became aware that two bottles of Surf liquid were scanning as two bottles of fabric softener for €4, when the actual price was €19.
Store manager Ben Martin told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that it was Ms Sheehan’s job to inform management of such errors so the products could be removed from the shelves. Instead, she had purchased the goods for the incorrect price and also served a colleague the products for the lower price later that day.
The tribunal was told that disciplinary action was not mentioned when Ms Sheehan first met Mr Martin over the issue on November 7. On November 12 she was suspended on pay. Ms Sheehan was dismissed in writing on December 3 for serious misconduct in breaching Tesco’s “honesty policy”.
Ms Sheehan told the tribunal she had never seen a copy of Tesco’s disciplinary or honesty policies and maintained a number of signatures on her training records were not hers.
When first confronted by Mr Martin over her purchasing of the goods, she had offered to repay the money but was told it was “too late”. Ms Sheehan believed it had taken Tesco’s five days to suspend her because her replacement was on sick leave.
The tribunal found that the “initial procedures in the disciplinary process were flawed” - specifically the meeting of November 7. Tesco had first become aware of the matter the day before but had allowed Ms Sheehan to continue working until November 12. She was awarded €750 for unfair dismissal.