Dunnes must pay fired checkout operator €21,000 25th July 2012
Dunnes Stores has been ordered to pay almost €21,000 compensation to a former checkout operator at its Kilkenny branch for wrongly firing her — despite the fact she admitted putting customers’ points on her own loyalty card in breach of company policy.
However, an Employment Appeals Tribunal ruling was highly critical of the group over a flawed disciplinary process it used to sack Ying Liu.
Ms Liu, of Hazel Grove, Loughboy, Kilkenny, was dismissed in May 2010 following an investigation by Dunnes Stores into excessive use of her loyalty card.
Dunnes Stores representatives were forced to admit there was a version of its employee handbook which wrongly suggested staff could accept loyalty card points with a customer’s consent. However, the company insisted Ms Liu had not received this version and had received instructions such use represented a serious breach of company policy.
But the EAT said it was open to interpretation whether Ms Liu believed it was a legitimate practice. Ms Liu had pleaded for a second chance from her manager and explained she had only used customers’ points on her loyalty card after her work had been reduced to 15 hours per week.
The EAT said Ms Liu’s solicitor had been provided with a “totally misleading document” on its loyalty card policy and said other documents to assist her in an appeal had not been provided when requested.
The tribunal said the checkout assistant had been essentially deprived of her right to appeal.
The EAT said employers needed to recognise they were dealing with a multi-cultural workforce and could not simply assume all staff were capable of understanding what could be complex documentation.
“There is simply no excuse for a large well-resourced company failing to recognise this reality and implementing the appropriate practices,” said the EAT. It also noted Ms Liu, from China, faced clear language obstacles.
Dunnes Stores was also criticised for wrongly believing Ms Liu had made an admission of being guilty of loyalty card fraud.
The EAT awarded Ms Liu €20,000 for unfair dismissal and a further €954 under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts.
This appeared in Irish Examiner Tuesday, July 24, 2012 By Seán McCárthaigh