Worker sacked in wrong hotdog row at cinema gets €20k
a dispute over a hotdog and wine gums has cost the country's biggest cinema complex a packet.
Adelphi Carlton Ltd, trading as Cineworld Cinemas in Dublin, has been ordered to pay one of its employees €20,000 after it was judged to have fired him unfairly.
Carl Meade had worked as a multi-functional operator with the cinema group for three years before losing his job after buying the hotdog and packet of wine gums at the complex (inset) in Parnell Street, Dublin, on April 6, 2012.
His operations manager noted from CCTV footage and an examination of paperwork that, while Mr Meade had signed his receipt as required to avail of the 40pc staff discount, he had in fact paid for a regular hotdog, but had received a (more expensive) large hotdog.
In addition, the receipt also showed that he had received a packet of Maltesers.
The Maltesers were also a different price than wine gums. The total difference in price, taking the 40pc discount into account, was €1.
Mr Meade told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that it was an honest mistake.
He insisted that he did not deliberately defraud the cinema company, but had not read the receipt before signing it.
He admitted it was a breach of the staff discount policy but was unaware of the serious implications of such a breach until he was confronted with it during the subsequent disciplinary process.
He believed that the sanction of dismissal was disproportionate.
The operations manager told the hearing that any discrepancy between what was signed for by the staff member and the actual goods received was viewed as a breach of policy.
It was both the original decision-maker's and the appeal decision-maker's view that the breach of policy by Mr Meade amounted to gross misconduct and merited dismissal.
In its decision, just published, the tribunal found that Mr Meade was unfairly dismissed.
It pointed to the evidence of both the original decision-maker and the person who heard the appeal that the mere fact that there was a breach of the policy in relation to staff discounted purchases meant that an act of gross misconduct had occurred and that dismissal was the appropriate sanction.
"This suggests to the tribunal that whether or not this was an honest mistake by the claimant could have no impact on the outcome of the disciplinary decision," it said.
As a result, the tribunal was not satisfied it was reasonable of the company to conclude that this was an act of gross misconduct and that the appropriate sanction was dismissal.
It awarded Mr Meade €20,000 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.