Healthcare worker who 'lost his career' after unfair dismissal awarded €20k

A healthcare support worker "lost his career" in the health sector after allowing a vulnerable teenager in his care to go to a public toilet unaccompanied at Pearse Street DART station in Dublin.

Now, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered the man’s former employer, a healthcare sector charity, to pay the man €20,000 for his unfair dismissal.

WRC Adjudication Officer, Eugene Hanly said that the punishment of dismissal in this case "does not fit the crime".

Mr Hanly said: “I also find that this sanction of dismissal not only resulted in him losing his job, he also lost his career; the hearing was told he was good at his job as a carer.”

Mr Hanly stated that the teenager in the care of the care worker “was vulnerable” during the external outing on November 24, 2017.

He said: “The incident at the train station could have ended up a very serious matter with all sorts of possible outcomes, thankfully it didn’t."

He found that the worker was not acting neglectfully, or lazy or disinterested.

Mr Hanly stated that the worker’s manager didn’t see it as a dismissible matter and his colleague did not see it as an urgent matter.

He said: “Therefore, I find that this action did not constitute gross misconduct warranting dismissal and that this dismissal was substantively unfair.”

However, Mr Hanly also found that the worker contributed to his dismissal which must be taken into consideration when establishing the quantum of the award.

The man’s employer told the WRC that, as a result of the teenager going to the toilet unaccompanied on a different platform, the teen was out of sight when going through an underpass and in the toilet itself.

After initiating disciplinary proceedings, the healthcare organisation - which provides services to children with a learning disability, mental ill-health and acquired brain injury - sacked the healthcare worker in January 2018.

At a hearing, the sacked worker said the decision to dismiss him “was over the top”.

He said he had known the teenager for four years and that the decision to allow him to go to the toilet on his own was to allow him to develop independence.

The worker stated that if he had known that this would lead to him losing his job he would not have done it. However, he accepted that he made a bad judgement call that day.

After being dismissed, the worker decided to apply for another job to which he got an offer but when the reference he received referred to gross misconduct he was unsuccessful in obtaining the post.

The man said that the dismissal has meant that he has lost his career and he applied for plenty of jobs in printing, shops, but he couldn’t get social care work.

The man retrained as a Security Officer and he got a full-time job on June 16, 2018, where he is earning €10,000 less per annum.

On redress, the man said that he is seeking his good name back as he was good at this job.

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