Case Number: ADJ-00012823. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00012823
Date04 October 2018
Hearing Date17 July 2018
PartiesGeneral Operative V Recycling Company
RespondentRecycling Company

Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00012823




Anonymised Parties

General Operative

Recycling Company



Sarah Treacy, Peninsula Group Limited



Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977



Date of Adjudication Hearing: 17/07/2018

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Joe Donnelly


In accordance with Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 - 2015, following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.


The complainant was employed as a general operative by the respondent on a full-time basis commencing employment in January 2005. The complainant’s gross pay was €623.29 per week. The respondent operates a scrap metal recycling business. The complainant was dismissed for allegedly attempting to divert business from the respondent to a competitor business.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

The respondent accused the complainant of undermining the business by arranging the purchase of scrap metal for another company.

The complainant was suspended from work for a week.

The complainant then got a letter stating that he was dismissed.

The complainant attempted to appeal the dismissal but the respondent did not arrange an appeal hearing.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The complainant made arrangements for a customer to deliver two buses for scrapping to the premises of a competitor.

The respondent only became aware of this when the customer made contact seeking directions to what the customer believed was the respondent’s new location.

The buses were then delivered to the respondent’s premises and the owner questioned the complainant regarding the matter.

The complainant admitted the facts and he was suspended. A meeting with the complainant took place a few days later and he was requested to explain his actions.

The complainant claimed that the owner’s son, who worked in the business, had given him to understand that the customer’s busses were more trouble than they were worth and that was the basis of his actions.

The owner considered this to be gross misconduct and dismissed the complainant. It was accepted that no appeal hearing took place.

Findings and Conclusions:

The respondent operates a scrap metal and recycling business. In November 2017 there was contact between the complainant and a customer regarding the scrapping of two buses. The complainant stated that the son of one of the owners / directors worked in the business and had remarked that the firm was not interested in buses from that customer as it was not an economically viable proposition to scrap them. The complainant contacted another recycling company and that firm indicated that they would be interested in dealing with the buses provided that the principal director of the respondent indicated that his company did not want the business. It appears that the complainant proceeded to make arrangements with the customer to deliver the buses to the premises of the other company but it also appears that it was not clarified to the customer that there was another company involved in the matter. The complainant also accepted that he had not discussed the matter with the principal director.

The customer contacted the director on the evening of Friday 24 November 2017 to clarify where the buses were to be delivered and it was at that time that the latter became aware of what had occurred. The customer was directed to deliver the buses to the respondent’s place of business and did so the following day. The complainant was working on the premises on that day until lunchtime. The director approached the complainant in the yard close to finishing time and asked him for an explanation. The complainant explained about his belief that the respondent was not interested in the customer’s business and that he had arranged for delivery to the other company on that basis.

The director met the complainant in the respondent’s car park at starting time on Monday 27 November 2017 and informed him that he was suspended on full pay. On Wednesday the complainant received a text message instructing him to come to a meeting on Thursday 30 November 2017. The meeting was attended by the two directors representing the respondent and the complainant was accompanied by his partner. The directors asked the complainant for an explanation of his actions and the complainant repeated that he had acted in the belief that the respondent was not interested in dealing with that customer. The complainant was requested to put his explanation in writing for consideration and the meeting terminated. The complainant furnished a short statement by email confirming his understanding with regard to buses from that customer. The complainant also emphasised that no buses had ever gone to the other company. There were no minutes kept of this meeting.

On 4 December 2017 the directors wrote to the complainant informing him that they had decided to terminate his employment with effect from 18 December 2017 stating that “we see these actions as gross misconduct which has caused a serious breach of trust.” The complainant...

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