A FORMER barman at a popular Limerick watering hole has been awarded €1,300 after the Employment Appeals Tribunal found unfair procedures had been used in sacking him.
James Deedigan, of Suil na hAbhainn, Mill Road, Corbally, rejected claims by his ex-employer that he had failed to pay for staff drinks after hours and took a case for unfair dismissal against OM Properties Ltd, trading as the Spotted Dog in Janesboro.
Mr Deedigan had been employed for almost two years when he was fired in December 2010. It was the company’s case that there had been concern about shortages in stock and cash and that clear instructions had been given to staff about recording all complimentary staff drinks.
The bar manager, the tribunal was told, had at one point banned free staff drinks; informed them these had to be paid for and also told them there was to be no extensive after-hours drinking on the premises.
It was claimed Mr Deedigan had been issued with verbal warnings for being late; arriving at work smelling of alcohol and staying in the pub drinking for too long after customers had left.
It was further claimed that despite these warnings, Mr Deedigan and another member of staff had been caught on CCTV drinking long after closing time. When confronted by the bar manager on December 5, 2010, Mr Deedigan denied not having paid for the drinks, which the bar manager regarded as a breach of trust, leaving him with no alternative but to dismiss him. His colleague had been suspended for a week because, according to management, there was no evidence he hadn’t paid for his drinks.
Mr Deedigan denied ever having received verbal warnings prior to being sacked. Any drinks consumed by him he had either paid for himself or had been bought for him by customers.
Referring to the CCTV footage, Mr Deedigan said he and his colleague had put €30 in the till before drinking. Anything he had to drink on the night had been paid for, he insisted.
The tribunal determined that procedures followed in dismissing Mr Deedigan had been unfair. There was no record of the purported verbal warnings and the tribunal also found inconsistency in the sanction applied to Mr Deedigan’s colleague.
Mr Deedigan, who was represented by Gerard Tobin of Limerick Citizens Information centre, was awarded €1300 for unfair dismissal.