Student awarded €4,000 after being unfairly dismissed

© The Irish Times

A student was unfairly dismissed after refusing to work extra hours at a supermarket when he wanted to dedicate more time to his studies, an Employment Appeals Tribunal has found.

In its ruling, the Tribunal has ruled that C Clifford & Sons Ltd trading as Gala supermarket at Mount Hawk, Tralee, Co Kerry should pay student, Philip Lynch €4,000.

Mr Lynch was studying business studies at the Tralee Institute of Technology and told the tribunal he worked his shift on October 29th 2013 and was free to attend his sister’s graduation the following day.

He was rostered to work 8.30am to 12.30pm on October 31st and took a call from his supervisor at his sister’s graduation where he declined her request to work extra hours from 1.30pm to 5.30pm the following day.

He refused on the grounds that he had final year projects to do and it was too short notice as he needed to study for his upcoming exams.

The student said that as requested, he contacted the store manager, who told him in clear and unambiguous terms that he either work those extra hours or face being fired.

Mr Lynch’s name was removed from the roster and he told the tribunal he tried to contact the manager but she did not answer his calls.

The firm didn’t offer any evidence in relation to Mr Lynch’s sacking and as a result of Mr Lynch’s uncontested evidence, the Tribunal found the dismissal was unfair and awarded him €4,000.

The firm had argued in a preliminary issue that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear the case as Mr Lynch did not have one year’s continuous service with the company.

Mr Lynch said that since April 2010 he had been working with the firm and his weekly earnings varied between €140 and €180.

This income assisted him in financing his studies and was badly needed and much appreciated.

Mr Lynch said he went on a J1 Visa to the US at the end of May 2013 and came home early in late July. He called to the store and resumed his employment on the same hours and conditions.

The Tribunal found in favour of Mr Lynch on the preliminary issue that it had jurisdiction to hear the case based on his length of service with the firm.

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