Dismissal For Breach Of Fitness And Probity Standards – Fair Or Unfair?

Author:Mr Bryan Dunne, Geraldine Carr, Niall Pelly and Russell Rochford

An employee who was dismissed for breach of fitness and probity standards has succeeded in his unfair dismissal claim against his employing bank, but was only awarded approximately four months' pay (Bank Official v Bank (ADJ-00014020)).

A case has come before the Workplace Relations Commission, which will be of interest to financial services clients with employees operating under the Central Bank of Ireland Fitness and Probity Standards.

Factual Background

The Complainant was employed as a Senior Customer Adviser in the Respondent bank until he was dismissed for advising a customer to sign her former husband's name on the back of a bank draft in order for her to lodge the money into her sole bank account. The bank's Cheque Handling and Cashing Policy requires that a bank draft payable to two persons be either:

lodged to the joint account of those two persons; or lodged to the sole account of one of those persons where the other person has endorsed their name on the back of the bank draft in order to facilitate the lodgement. The customer called the bank and confirmed that the Complainant had advised her to sign her husband's name and the Complainant then advised his manager of this.

The Complainant admitted the wrongdoing and confirmed that he was fully aware of the bank's policies. The matter was referred to a disciplinary hearing in which the Complainant was found to have advised a customer to commit a fraudulent act, which amounted to gross misconduct. It was also found that he had breached a number of the bank's policies. The Complainant was dismissed with immediate effect, which was upheld on appeal.

Respondent Bank's Argument

The bank emphasised that the Complainant's role was a “Controlled Function” role under the Central Bank Reform Act 2010 and was, therefore, subject to the fitness and probity standards prescribed by the Central Bank of Ireland. The bank argued that these standards require employees to be competent and capable, honest, ethical, to act with integrity and be financially sound. The bank's position was that in the context of the regulatory environment such conduct could not be tolerated and it was effectively required by law to take such action to dismiss him, which was reasonable and not unfair.

Complainant's Argument

The Complainant relied on the fact that he had an unblemished record for over 10 years and that he was allowed to remain in his role for two months following the incident, without transfer or...

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