Meat plant forced to pay butcher €11,000 after unfair dismissal

By Gordon Deegan

A meat plant has been forced to pay a former employee €11,026 after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that the butcher had been unfairly dismissed.

The individual in question was assaulted and dismissed from his job after a dispute arose between him and his employer over a loin of pork, he claimed.

On February 3, 2017, an ‘eye’ of a loin of pork was cut through, and the plant’s transport manager felt this would be rejected by customers.

The butcher – who is originally from Brazil – said the manager accused him of causing the defect, which was denied by the complainant, who said any of the other workers on the line could have caused it.

After the argument became heated, the butcher attempted to walk away, only to be physically accosted by the manager, who placed his hands around the employee’s throat, the commission heard.

It was during this exchange that the manager said “you are out”, which the employee took to mean that he was being fired.

The complainant immediately rang the Gardai to report the incident, in which he received minor injuries.

Marguerite Buckley, the WRC Adjudication Officer who oversaw the case, decided that the man had been fired unfairly.

However, she didn’t accept the evidence from the butcher that he was entirely blameless during the original altercation, acknowledging that some provocation was made on his part.

However, she ultimately decided that the provocation did not justify the physical assault that followed, and the unfair dismissal.

The butcher was awarded €10,200 for the dismissal, plus a further €826 for minimum notice payments.

The firm in question maintained throughout the case that the butcher had started the altercation, and had a history of getting into similar confrontations.