A SHOP WORKER who posted disparaging memes on Facebook after her boss allegedly kicked the back of her chair has been awarded more than €7,000 in an unfair dismissal case.
The woman brought a case to the Workplace Relations Commission against her former employer, claiming that she was unfairly dismissed, deducted money and owed annual leave entitlements, amongst other complaints.
The problems, detailed in an anonymised judgement, stemmed from an alleged incident on 22 December when the managing director of the company is claimed to have shouted at her telling her she took up too much room and kicked the back of her chair.
The woman, who had worked for the company for more than 10 years, said she felt upset over the incident and complained to the manager of the shop. Later that evening, she posted memes of a derogatory nature about bosses on her Facebook page.
The following day she was called to a meeting with the managing director there, who asked her about the Facebook memes. She replied by asking why he had kicked her chair the night before.
She claims her boss then shouted at her and told her she was suspended for two weeks without pay.
On Christmas Eve, she says she was told by the shop manager that if she apologised to the managing director and withdrew her allegation she would be reinstated.
She refused to retract the kicking allegation on a number of occasions, she told the WRC, and was advised she had engaged in “gross misconduct by way of gross insubordination”.
The worker said the original suspension was over the Facebook memes and not the alleged kicking of the chair.
Following a disciplinary hearing on 20 February, when she was shown CCTV footage of the incident before Christmas, she was dismissed from her job with immediate effect for gross misconduct.
In its defence, the company claimed that the worker had wrongly accused the owner of the business of assault and of being a liar. These allegations escalated when she alleged the CCTV evidence showing no assault had been tampered with, the company said.
The company added there was “no desire to impose the penalty of dismissal and that every effort was made to avoid that outcome” but the woman’s claims were so “objectionable, grave and serious” they were left with no alternative.
The WRC adjudicator found that, because the managing director was part of the initial incident and subsequent investigations, the woman’s right to an impartial and fair hearing had been breached.
While the adjudicator accepted the woman’s behaviour contributed to her dismissal, it was in his power to still grant an award for unfair dismissal while taking this into account.
The woman was awarded €5,500 compensation as a result of an infringement of the Unfair Dismissals Act. The woman was also awarded a sum of €2,190, or the equivalent of six weeks’ pay.
Written by Sean Murray and posted on TheJournal.ie