The official NATIONAL court report thread

Alcoholic Supervalu manager who was sacked after he drank himself ‘unconscious’ on premises awarded €40,000

October 28 2022 05:43 PM
A supermarket has been ordered to pay nearly €40,000 for sacking an alcoholic manager who drank himself “comatose” on vodka on the premises when his employers went away to a wedding. The supermarket’s owners called it an “incalculable” breach of trust which meant the manager had broken promises made after similar behaviour the previous year.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found the manager had been discriminatorily sacked because he was an alcoholic, and that in the absence of precedent in the area, it could not accept the breach of trust as a defence for discrimination.

The tribunal upheld Eamon Murphy’s complaint against Michael Connolly & Sons Ltd, which trades as Connolly’s Supervalu in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. The tribunal was told there had been a series of “alcoholic-related issues” with Mr Murphy in 2019 leading up to a “serious incident at work” four days before Christmas 2019. He was declared fit to work in January 2020 after seeing the company doctor, where he agreed to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and for there to be “no repeat of the alcoholic incidents”, the WRC heard.

In October of the same year, the Connolly family went away for a weekend to attend their daughter’s wedding, leaving Mr Murphy in sole charge of the supermarket, said Helen Barry of Simplify HR, who appeared for the employer. On Saturday October 24, Ms Barry said, the complainant brought a “considerable volume of alcohol” to work. He drank the vodka on the premises “to such an extent that he had become completely unconscious and seriously alarmed his immediate colleagues to his wellbeing”. Mr Murphy had to be brought home by his fellow workers, she said. The tribunal was told Mr Murphy informed his employer he would go directly into a residential addiction course three days after the incident. In his evidence, Mr Murphy expressed remorse for what happened and said he thought the previous year he could “resolve his alcohol issues largely on his own”.

Mr Murphy said the company doctor had been “helpful, but was not an addiction expert and realistically was of little value”. He said his alcoholism had been progressive at the time, and that the October 2020 incident was the moment he “hit the wall” with drink – realising it had “completely taken over his life”. Only at this point did he recognise the extent of his problem, he said, and “immediately” booked into a residential treatment programme. He said he left the treatment course a “changed man” and was asking the company for “another chance in whatever capacity this might be possible” when he appealed his dismissal.

Ms Barry said the supermarket continued to pay his salary while he attended the course and that when he was certified fit to return to work in December 2020, he was suspended on full pay for an investigation. The ultimate outcome of the disciplinary process which followed was a finding of gross misconduct and a sanction of dismissal. Tom Connolly, the managing director of the firm and the decision-maker in the disciplinary case, said: “On every level, both professional and especially personal…the breach of trust was simply incalculable. “The relationship could not continue. In the absence of trust, the risk that [Mr Murphy] was posing to the business was too great.

Dismissal was a very hard decision to come to but there was no alternative,” he told the tribunal. He said alternatives, such as a “step-down” job at the store, “would never have been possible” because the loss of confidence among other staff in the management of the supermarket would have been “immense”. “Dismissal was the only and most regrettable option. Every other employer would have done the same,”

Ms Barry submitted. Mr Murphy’s dismissal was later upheld on appeal – a process which his barrister, Rosemary Mallon BL, argued “did not take his alcoholism in proper account” and failed to consider the complainant’s suggestions on reasonable accommodation. “In plain English, the complainant was dismissed simply because he was an alcoholic – this was grossly discriminatory,” said Ms Mallon.

Adjudicating officer Michael McEntee found that Mr Murphy had a “well-recognised disability” in the form of alcoholism and noted that there had been “many” alcohol incidents involving the complainant in 2019. “However, this was the weekend that the complainant, by his own admission, chose to bring into the store a considerable quantity of alcohol and proceeded to consume it on the premises until he became comatose. “As store manager, with all the responsibilities attached, this, to any reasonable observer, was a catastrophic breach of trust that would render any future employment relationship very difficult, if not impossible,” Mr McEntee wrote.

The supermarket’s solicitor, Ms Barry, had argued the 2017 Labour Court ruling in Irish Aviation Authority v Reddin, which upheld the sacking of an air traffic controller who reported to work with alcohol in his bloodstream, ought to be persuasive. Mr McEntee noted the argument of Ms Mallon, for the complainant, that her client’s case had been taken under the Employment Equality Act.

“Any reliance on case law/precedent from complaints under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 must be treated with caution,” he wrote. He added that the risk factor in the Reddin case was “much higher than in a retail environment”. He noted that the Labour Court had taken the view that employers ought to give workers with an alcohol dependency “an opportunity to seek professional treatment” before considering dismissal and that other factors, including safety risk, responsibility and contact with the public, also had to be taken into account in assessing the “range of reasonable responses”.

However, Mr McEntee said that the Employment Equality Act’s requirements were “paramount”, even in the circumstances of a breach of trust. He wrote that the supermarket owners had taken the view that supermarket managers “do not return to work in much reduced or restricted capacities following an addiction issue” and made no efforts to seek input from an addiction counselling service.

The case was at the intersection of common law and equality law, Mr McEntee wrote – an area “largely unexplored” by the courts. “Unless and until tested in a higher court, breach of contract or breach of trust, as argued in this case, cannot stand as an effective employer defence in an equality discrimination dismissal case,” he concluded.

He found that discrimination on the grounds of disability and failure to provide reasonable accommodation were “proven”. Having been out of work for 18 weeks before taking up a new job on a “radically reduced” salary of €28,000 and incurring ongoing losses up to the maximum 104 weeks, Mr Murphy had lost earnings of around €103,000, the adjudicator noted. Mr McEntee ordered redress of €39,750 to be paid to Mr Murphy – a sum €250 less than the maximum awardable by law.
 
If we think things are bad in Ireland, drop in the ocean compared the good ole USA
{ know of a Cork lad living in California who got done for an incident involving his ex girlfriend and her flatmate.

Did the drunken paddy thing of calling around to sort out the relationship. They hadn't changed the key code since he moved out the previous week and he was able to leave himself in.

Ex partner wasn't there so he told the flatmate, "If she isn't here in 15 minutes I'll kill you", made an inappropriate advance (which stopped when she said NO) after the flatmate rang the ex, made a drunken fumble on the ex when she came back.

They easily overpowered him and then called the cops. (It was pointed out to my by a female that if the ex really feared him she could have sent the cops around after the flatmate rang her)

There was no weapons involved.

I've seen cases in Cork that would involve way more violence getting suspended sentences. ( I often use the Larry Murphy Scale to gauge what would the sentence here be )

He copped a plea in 2016

His reduced tarrif leaves him eligible for parole in 2042 by which time he'll be in his 70s.

Parole in the US is not like here, and there is no guarantee that you will be successful first time up.

I doubt if it would have been a conviction here (1st time offence 50 odd, drink taken blah blah )

The information presented was got off the web for the pre trial and the prison locator form. The assumption is that there was no trial as it couldn't be found online )

Think he went to Pres
 

Sentencing Rooney to 10 years, Mr Justice Keane took into account a number of aggravating factors, including the fact he has 225 previous convictions for violent disorder, drugs, public order offences, trespass, theft and road traffic matters.

In his plea of mitigation, Dominic McGinn SC, defending Rooney, said that since serving a prison sentence for prior offences and since becoming a father, Rooney has resolved to put his “petty offending, violence and drug use” behind him. He said sexual offending was completely out of character for Rooney.
 
A suspected fuel smuggler from crossmaglen has been sentenced to 3 years for severely assaulting a man who spoke out against fuel smuggling,
In his defence it was stated he supports the gaa and rears turkeys to give to struggling families at christmas, let him go so.
 

Meridian

Full Member
A suspected fuel smuggler from crossmaglen has been sentenced to 3 years for severely assaulting a man who spoke out against fuel smuggling,
In his defence it was stated he supports the gaa and rears turkeys to give to struggling families at christmas, let him go so.
I saw that in the news and of course he is a " pillar of the community "

How pathetic can these rural communities be ?
 

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