Posted: July 20th, 2018
The High Court has approved a finding that a hotel worker who got into an altercation with his managing director in relation to the removal of rubbish was unfairly dismissed. Along with this a compensation figure of €32,178 along has been awarded by the Employment Appeals Tribunal.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton ruled the investigative/disciplinary meeting lead to the dismissal of Eugene Young from Castle Durrow Country House Hotel in Durrow, Co Laois, was fundamentally flawed, contrary to natural justice and the also the hotel’s own policy.
Judge Barton upheld a finding of the Circuit Court that Mr Young had been unfairly dismissed from his position. The High Court is set to rule late in relation to the award and costs. The initial finding had been appealed by Towerbrook Ltd, trading as Castle Durrow Country House Hotel, had appealed the EAT and Circuit Court decisions.
Mr Justice Barton said the case arose out of an incident on the busy June bank holiday weekend in 2013 when a considerable amount of rubbish was generated and which was deposited at the rear of the hotel, near the kitchen.
Mr Young, who had been employed as a general handyman for the previous 13 years, decided to remove rubbish for collection prior to the normal 11am time slot, so as not to disturb any guests, as it was blocking a kitchen entrance and preventing entry to the kitchen. He did so at 9.45am.
That morning the food had to be delivered by 9.45am but the kitchen entrance was blocked by the rubbish which meant he couldn’t load the food. Mr Young decided to remove the rubbish although he knew it was hotel policy not to do so until after 11am so as not to disturb guests.
The managing director heard what was taking place and remonstrated with Mr Young which led to an altercation between the two parties. The exact nature of the altercation, and the physicality that occurred was disputed by both individuals. Due to this Mr Young demanded an apology from Mr Stokes which was not forthcoming and he was told to go home and calm himself down.
When Mr Stokes did not turn up for a meeting the next day additional efforts were made by to resolve the matter. However, Mr Young went into the office of hotel financial controller, Naomi Shairp, where he tried to remove his shirt to show her the bruising on his chest from the alleged assault. This scared Ms Shairp and disciplinary proceedings were later held in relation to both incidents, alleging gross misconduct. The result of these hearing was that Mr Young was dismissed from his employment.
Mr Justice Barton said “I was left with the distinct impression that, had a little common sense and humility been brought to bear on matters, the outcome might very well have been different and this entire litigation avoided”. He ruled the disciplinary meeting leading to the dismissal was flawed as it was overseen by Mr Stokes himself into his own complaint and that of Ms Shairp.