A WAREHOUSE MANAGER has been awarded €20,000 in an unfair dismissal case after he was sacked for leaving work to go to his “trapped wife” in a “hostile situation”.
The man left work to go home after getting a distressed call from his wife telling him that she was trapped in the house by eight to 10 young men outside carrying weapons.
In the incident, four men from the man’s workplace accompanied the warehouse manager to the “dangerous and hostile situation” at his home and he was sacked by his employer for gross misconduct as a result.
The man sued for unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled that he was unfairly dismissed and awarded him €20,000.
WRC adjudication officer Rosaleen Glackin ruled that the decision by the services company to dismiss the warehouse manager was not appropriate and a lesser sanction would have been more appropriate.
It was noted that prior to the incident on 30 October 2016, the man had an excellent work record over 18 years.
He explained that at around 8pm on the night in question, he received an urgent phone call from his wife who told him that she was trapped in the home with eight to 10 young men armed with weapons outside.
He said that his wife was extremely upset and he decided to drive to the home which was 10 minutes away.
On his way, the manager asked two workers who were on their rest break to accompany him while two other workers joined of their own accord.
The purpose was to secure the house and when they arrived at the home, Gardaí were already there and the situation was diffused.
All five employees were at the house for no more than five minutes as the situation was under control of the Gardaí.
The warehouse manager emailed the operations manager to inform them that he was off site and explained the reasons for absence.
On 7 November, the man was suspended for gross misconduct as a result of an unauthorised absence from work, taking four employees with him and leaving the warehouse site without a supervisor for 20 minutes.
On 26 November, the man was dismissed with immediate effect following a disciplinary hearing. The man appealed the decision internally and the decision to sack him was upheld.
The company claimed that the man had placed the health and safety of the other employees at risk and exposed the four to a dangerous and hostile situation outside his home.
In her findings, Glackin ruled that the worker was faced with a personal urgent issue which required his immediate response. It would have been more appropriate for the company to issue the man with a lesser disciplinary action than dismissal.
Glackin found that the decision of the warehouse manager to ask two other employees to accompany him and allow two others to join him was not an appropriate response by the worker.
She also noted that in his report to the operations manager, the warehouse manager did not report that four other employees had been absent for 20 minutes.
However, Glackin maintained that a lesser sanction than dismissal would have been appropriate.