Tesco deputy manager loses ‘unfair dismissal’ case after being sacked for failing to pay for three cans of Red Bull
7 April 2023
A Tesco deputy manager who lost his job after drinking three cans of Red Bull worth €9.45 which he did not pay for, has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.
The Irish Independent reports John Herd claimed he “forgot to pay” for the energy drinks on three separate occasions in October 2021, because he was “on the verge of being made homeless” and was not sleeping well as a result of his distress.
However, Tesco argued that its “bond of trust” with Herd was broken and it was therefore reasonable to sack him from his €33,900-a-year post. This position has since been supported by the Workplace Relations Commission in a new decision.
The tribunal was told that in September 2021, Tesco’s loss prevention software, called “Target”, flagged “unusual activity at the Crumlin Express store in Dublin where Mr Herd was the deputy manager.
“It was alleged that the complainant took a can of Red Bull and consumed it without having paid for it on three separate occasions: the 3rd, 8th, and 18th of October 2021,” said Ibec employer relations executive Niamh Ní Cheallaigh.
The tribunal heard that store manager, Emma Doyle, made the allegation to John Herd on 29 October 29, 2021. An investigation meeting, disciplinary hearing and appeal subsequently all took place.
John Herd said his colleagues “would know he always paid for his drinks each morning but on these occasions he apparently did not pay” – and that he was “unaware of his wrongdoing” until he was called to the first meeting with Emma Doyle.
Herd accused the supermarket of “favouritism” and claimed that similar allegations against other staff were “swept under the rug”. He said he had complained to his line manager about one colleague, who he claimed gave out a bottle of spirits for free on one occasion and Tesco Clubcard points at “100 times the value they should have issued” on another. Despite being involved in “multiple incidents”, Doyle claimed the other worker had only ever received warnings.
He alleged that both the investigating officer and the disciplinary officer had declined to discuss these other situations, stating they were “not aware” of them.
Herd lost has job following a finding of gross misconduct in December 2021, with the dismissal “effective immediately”, according to Ní Cheallaigh. His later appeal that the decision was “excessive” was rejected.
WRC adjudicating officer Pat Brady wrote that Herd “should have been under no illusion from his position and training with the company that the issues that led to his dismissal would amount to gross misconduct.”