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unfair dismissal Manager dismissed over mobile phone roaming data row awarded €88,200 compensation

The man's employers allege that mobile data shows he was in Germany on a date he had texted in sick

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An Operations Manager dismissed over a mobile phone roaming data row has been awarded €88,200 for his unfair dismissal.

This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Davnet O’Driscoll upholding the Operations Manager’s claims against the Inspection Company and ordering the company to pay the man a total of €88,200 compensation.

Ms O’Driscoll has ordered the un-named company to pay the man €80,931 for his unfair dismissal for gross misconduct and €7,269 in respect of notice owed.

Ms O’Driscoll found that the actions of the company were not within the band of reasonable responses to the conduct, nor were these proportionate given the employee’s seniority and length of service.

The man worked as Operations Manager from 2006 to the date of his unfair dismissal on March 29th 2019.

The Operations Manager - who worked initially as a cargo surveyor with the company - requested leave in September 2018 for leave on Christmas Eve 2018.

This was refused and on December 24th 2018, the man’s wife texted to say her husband was sick and unable to come to work.

In mid-January 2019, the firm’s General Manager received a bill which suggested from text messages and data roaming that the Operations Manager was in Germany on December 24th 2018.

The company suspended the Operations Manager when it was dis-satisfied over his response to where he was on Christmas Eve.

The company asked for the man’s company phone and told him not to remove any company data from the phone but it was returned with no data after it was restored to factory settings.

In her findings, Ms O’Driscoll stated that the company found the deletion of the data by the Operations Manager “to be a breach of trust”.

Ms O’Driscoll stated: “However, there was no evidence of any adverse impact or loss to the company from these actions.”

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Ms O’Driscoll found that there was no evidence that the employer “considered any alternative sanction to dismissal”.

Ms O’Driscoll stated: “I find the complainant was unfairly dismissed on substantive grounds.”

Ms O’Driscoll stated that given the fractious history of the relationship between the General Manager and Operations Manager over some years, compensation is the appropriate redress.

Ms O’Driscoll found that the Operations Manager contributed to his dismissal.

The Operations Manager stated that he worked in a specialist industry and has not found alternative employment since.

The man was seeking re-instatement along with compensation for financial loss.

SIPTU argued that the sanction of dismissal was severe and not proportionate, that the Operations Manager’s long service and employment record was not given proper consideration.

SIPTU contended that his suspension was a disproportionate reaction to him calling in sick one morning following sixteen years work.

SIPTU stated that the Operations Manager’s actions in deleting the data were not deliberate as he was trying to protect his private material on the phone.

The company argued that the Operations Manager has not given any explanation for the apparent discrepancy regarding his location on December 24th 2018.

The firm stated that deletion of material was in direct contravention of the instruction from the employer and the Operations Manager’s actions meet the threshold for gross misconduct.

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