herald

Friday 24 November 2017

Cleared man sacked after robbery arrest wins €25k

A SALESMAN who was unfairly sacked after he was arrested by gardai for questioning in relation to a major robbery has been awarded €25,000.

Anthony O'Brien, of Great Western Villas, Phibsborough, was awarded the money after taking a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Although arrested in relation to the robbery, he was later released without charge and gardai took no further action.

Mr O'Brien began working for Abbey Seals Limited, which distributes metal seals, as a salesman in the spring of 2002. The family-owned firm has since gone into liquidation.

A garda from the National Bureau of Investigation gave evidence that Mr O'Brien was arrested at his home on February 27, 2009, and was detained at a city centre station until almost midnight on March 2.



RECORD

He was seen by a doctor three times during his detention.

Abbey Seals Ltd claimed its office manager took a call from Mr O'Brien on the morning of March 2 to say he was sick and not able to report for work.

That afternoon a garda detective visited the company's offices and sought information on Mr O'Brien's whereabouts on February 26 and 27.

The detective was told that Mr O'Brien was in work on both days.

The company's sales director said Mr O'Brien was a good employee with no disciplinary record.

He was told by the office manager that Mr O'Brien had phoned in sick when the garda said he was in custody. When the director put this to Mr O'Brien, the worker said he had nothing to do with the crime.

The company sent Mr O'Brien a letter on March 5 in which it reminded him of the firm's sick leave policy and that he would have to provide a medical certificate for his absence.

It also looked for his laptop and mobile phone to be returned while he was absent from the company -- but these items had been seized by gardai.



LEAVE

The sales director conceded to the tribunal that the return of the computer and phones from an employee while they were absent was an unusual requirement and not been applied to employees before.

Mr O'Brien told the tribunal in evidence that by the time of his release from custody he felt "shaken up" and opted to take a number of days leave from March 3. He told the sales manager he would be taking some leave that was owed to him and denied seeking sick leave.

However he said he knew by this stage that the company was aware of his arrest.

The tribunal found that Mr O'Brien had been unfairly dismissed and decided he did nothing that would amount to misconduct or justify dismissal.

However it said his failure to be forthcoming with the truth from the outset may have fed the company's suspicions.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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