Supermarket giants Morrisons have been forced to pay more than £5,000 to a former employee who “had lost her cool” at a customer.
The 60-year-old woman, who worked in the Dundee store, was also alleged to have sworn at the customer over an incident involving a can of spilled juice.
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The woman denied swearing but she was subsequently dismissed by the company for gross misconduct. Employment Tribunals Scotland have decided that the was unfairly dismissed.
They have awarded her £5,124.52 and stated that the company had ignored its own policy when carrying out an investigation in the case surrounding the woman’s dismissal.
The tribunal heard the women was dismissed following an altercation with a customer over the spillage.
The incident happened at a time when the employee was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and was waiting to have a brain scan.
On the day in question after the can burst open the woman believed the customer behaved in a way that the employee felt was disrespectful.
The tribunal heard the customer alleged the employee then said several disparaging remarks about her and she reported her concerns to the woman’s employer.
An investigation was carried out by the company and the woman was dismissed.
However the tribunal ruled: “The woman gave evidence honestly. She was candid in her evidence. She was absolutely clear that she had not sworn at the customer. She did accept that she had lost her cool.”
The woman’s agent Ryan Russell, of Muir Myles Laverty, said: “Morrisons has come under heavy criticism for the way they handled this case and rightfully so. This judgement highlights how important it is for an employer to conduct a full and thorough investigation rather than assuming guilt.”
Dismissal had ‘disastrous’ effect
The former Morrisons employee at the centre of the row said the whole incident has had a serious and detrimental effect on her health.
She said: “This has had a disastrous and detrimental effect on me, almost causing a complete breakdown.
“It also resulted in me almost losing my home.” She added: “Until all this happened, I had a completely clean slate with my employer.
“I’d never received a warning about anything and I will never understand why this case was allowed to go as far as it did and ended up in my dismissal.”
The woman said she was unhappy at the way Morrisons had carried
out its investigation into the complaints against her and felt she had
been vindicated by the decision of the industrial tribunal.
However, she added: “I don’t feel that the £5,000 awarded to me is enough for the upset and stress and loss of earnings that I have suffered as a result of this case.
“I feel the tribunal ought to have given me a greater financial award for the way I was treated by the company.”
Morrisons has been approached for comment.