Dunnes 'right to sack worker who sold girl (16) alcohol'
Dunnes Stores had no option but to sack a check-out assistant for selling alcohol to a 16-year-old schoolgirl who bought it on the instructions of an undercover garda, a judge has ruled.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that the plain clothes garda identified herself to Anna Perenc only after the sale of a bottle of wine to the girl had gone through at Stephen's Green, Dublin, the company's biggest store.
He overturned a decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal which had directed Dunnes to pay Perenc €16,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.
Barrister Marcus Dowling, counsel for Dunnes, told the Circuit Civil Court that the company operated one of the most stringent procedures of any retailer in the country in order to make it almost impossible for an under-18 year old to be sold alcohol.
Mr Dowling, who appeared with solicitors Byrne Wallace, said that twice a year all check-out staff underwent training that highlighted the company's ban on alcohol sales to anyone under the age of 23 - five years older than the legal limit - and warnings were posted in staff rooms.
Mr Dowling told the court the sale of alcohol to a child was a criminal offence both for the sales operative and Dunnes, and the Stephen's Green store could have been closed down by the gardai for anything between two and 30 days.
Perenc, who was represented by Mandate Trade Union, had admitted her mistake but claimed Dunnes Stores had not followed proper procedures during its investigation and her dismissal.
Judge Groarke accepted her mistake was a "momentary lapse" but he saw nothing unfair about the investigation procedure.
"It is very difficult to see somebody lose their job but Dunnes Stores had no option but to do what they did do and I uphold the appeal," he said.
He made no order as to costs.