Manager awarded €27,000 after claiming hotel owner got ‘aggressive’ and ripped off his face mask while accusing him of theft

A manager who claimed a hotel owner got ‘aggressive’ in a meeting and ripped off his face mask while accusing him of theft has been awarded more than €27,000 in compensation from the Workplace Relations Commission.

The restaurant manager at the Twelfth Lock Hotel in west Dublin has been awarded compensation for unfair dismissal and other employment law violations by his former employer, Gossm Investments Ltd.

In his decision, Adjudication Officer Davnet O’Driscoll noted that the director had not received any written details of the allegations or evidence against him.

Daniel Tanase, who had worked for the hotel since 2017, told a hearing last September that the owner took €700 in cash from the restaurant’s till before filing a theft charge against him on July 19, 2020.

Mr. Tanase has denied the allegations against him.

No representative of the hotel appeared at the hearing to defend the claim.

The name of its owner was redacted in a decision released this morning by the Workplace Relations Commission.

Mr Tanase said the landlord told him he was watching him on CCTV, said he had to account for the money and ‘implied there were other issues – and he was sent in a desk”.

“The owner was aggressive and broke Covid-19 distancing guidelines,” Mr Tanase said in evidence.

The owner “came very close to the complainant’s face and ripped off the mask,” it was said at the hearing.

Mr Tanase said the owner told him he was part of a ‘wider investigation’ but did not give him further details – adding that it was the first time he had been told he had there were problems.

The owner sent him home and called him for another meeting on July 22, where he met the owner and two managers who asked him “to explain his position” and “harassed” him, he declared.

Mr Tanase said they refused to let him see the CCTV footage and then had his keys taken away.

On September 25, he received a letter dated two weeks earlier terminating his employment.

The letter, which was tendered into evidence by Mr. Tanase’s lawyer, James Evans, said auditors and the company’s electronic point-of-sale system provider had conducted a review.

The letter alleged “deliberate falsification of financial records” against the complainant, which Mr Tanase denied.

According to the complainant, no such investigation was carried out – but if it was, it was without his participation, and he was denied due process during the disciplinary proceedings.

In his decision, the adjudicating officer, Ms O’Driscoll, wrote that Mr Tanase ‘was not involved in any investigation, saw no CCTV and was unaware of the outcome of any investigation’.

“It is an extremely serious charge to be charged with theft. It is very surprising that the complainant has not received written details of the allegations against him and the evidence,” she wrote.

She concluded that the disciplinary process used by the employer [did] failing to comply with basic fair procedures or the Industrial Relations Act code of practice on grievance and disciplinary procedures.

“In the circumstances, I find that the complainant was wrongfully terminated on substantive and procedural grounds,” she wrote.

Finding that Mr Tanase had been left to take a job with lower pay until August 2020 before attending the PUP for five months, Ms O’Driscoll ordered compensation of €20,072.07 for the resulting loss of earnings unfair dismissal.

It also found a breach of the Wage Payment Act and ordered €5,526.61 for unpaid wages between August 23 and September 25, 2020, two weeks notice and 10 days annual leave.

Ms O’Driscoll awarded further compensation of €230.80 for failure to pay an appropriate Sunday bonus and €1,218.84 for the employer’s failure to provide written terms of employment.

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