Chef sacked over quality of sandwich made for boss wins €14k award
A CHEF was sacked from a four-star hotel over the quality of a sandwich he prepared for one of the hotel's owners and for having chicken supremes at the wrong temperature on the same day.
In the case, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has ordered the Ashdown Park Hotel Ltd to pay Mauro Panico €14,600 after finding that he was unfairly dismissed.
The four-star hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford is owned by builders and brothers, Thomas and Patrick Redmond, where the most recent accounts for 2013 show that the business was being supported by directors' loans to the tune of over €2.2m.
Now, in the EAT case, the tribunal has found that the complete absence of any meaningful disciplinary procedure and the denial of basic rights to Mr Panico "are unjustifiable".
The EAT stated in the absence of a proper investigation and enquiry into the matter at the time, it found that the hotel firm is unable to satisfy the tribunal that the dismissal of Mr Panico was merited.
Mr Panico started working for the hotel in 2008 and his employment was uneventful before the sandwich and chicken supreme incident on November 14, 2012.
In his evidence, Mr Panico told the EAT that he was dismissed over a sandwich that he prepared for the hotel's owner.
He said that when he met the food purchasing manager the following week, he was again told that he was dismissed due to the sandwich for the owner.
When Mr Panico said that when he raised the unfairness of this, he was then informed that there was also a food safety issue with chicken.
Mr Panico told the tribunal that the kitchen was short-staffed the day the sandwich was prepared.
However, the food purchasing manager, referred to as Mr F, refuted this, and said that the reasons for dismissal were two fold: the preparation of the sandwich, but the more serious issue of the preparation of chicken supremes, which were found to be submerged in water at a temperature of 41.5 degrees - below the recommended minimum for safety of 63 degrees.
Mr F gave evidence as to the potential impact to customers and to the hotel's business, and that he believed this issue warranted summary dismissal.
However, the EAT found that little by way of investigation was carried out into the preparation of the chicken supremes.
Without ever speaking to Mr Panico, Mr F instructed the head chef to dismiss him when he turned up for work the following Saturday.
The EAT found that "there was no disciplinary process whatsoever and it was only when Mr Panico sought to question his dismissal on the following Tuesday that Mr F first raised the issue of the carvery chicken with him. At no point was Mr Panico given the opportunity to appeal the decision to dismiss him".