A BEAUTY CLINIC in Dublin failed to quash a €10,000 payout to a worker sacked for friending clients on Facebook, removing company property and discounting treatments without permission.
Ruth Burke, a former beauty therapist at Howth Haven Beauty Clinic, was awarded the sum following a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing last year over her claims of unfair dismissal.
The Labour Court upheld the WRC’s decision following a failed appeal by Waterberry Limited, the company behind the clinic.
Burke worked for Howth Haven Beauty Clinic for close to four years when she was dismissed for numerous reasons, including an alleged breach of company social media policy.
According to the letter terminating her employment, Burke was also sacked for removing company property without permission, discounting treatments without authorisation – which cost the business €3,500 – and giving away or selling her own products on the premises.
The allegations were presented to Burke at an investigation meeting that ultimately led to her dismissal. The ex-employee had requested that she be allowed bring a third-party representative to the meeting, but the request was refused.
She asked to appeal the decision to dismiss her but missed the seven-day deadline and a hearing never took place.
Burke told the court that she had indeed friended clients on Facebook but only as part of a company competition. She gave evidence that she couldn’t remember any conversation around the company’s social media policy.
In response to the allegation that she took company products without permission, Burke said she was never told that she couldn’t do that, and she said it was her understanding that the practice of making discounted transactions on the till was “a normal feature” of the business.
Burke – who worked part-time in her final year of employment so she could establish her own business – denied that she sold her own products on the premises but did give items to a client as “a gesture of gratitude” for assisting her with “some domestic matters”.
In its decision, the Labour Court took issue with the level of crossover between personnel at all stages of Burke’s dismissal, which it said had “fatally imperilled” the decision to let her go.
The court said that although Burke had “contributed significantly” to her own dismissal, it found that her sacking was “procedurally unfair” and upheld the WRC’s decision to award her €10,000.