Receptionist fired after ‘screaming’ at client and sending them threatening emails awarded €3,520 damages

A RECEPTIONIST at a commercial vehicle testing centre has been awarded €3,520 in compensation for unfair dismissal.

The woman was sacked after sending threatening emails and texts to a customer and his wife.

An adjudication hearing of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) was told the receptionist had been employed at the centre for three years when she had a row with a customer over unpaid bills.

Her employer said he was present on one occasion when she “screamed and roared” at the customer, who she had called a “disgrace” for not paying his bills.

Debt collection had nothing to do with her responsibilities, he added.

The WRC heard the woman had sent threatening emails and text messages to the customer and his wife, copies of which were produced at the adjudication hearing.

In an effort to resolve the situation, her employer asked her to stay away from the customer.

He also persuaded the customer’s wife not to report the matter to gardai.

However, the receptionist insisted on receiving an apology and said she would leave if the business continued to deal with the individual, maintaining that it was he who had abused her.

In her decision, WRC adjudication officer Gaye Cunningham noted there was a conflict of evidence as to whether the worker had resigned or been dismissed.

The woman claimed her employer had given her a lift home last November 5 and told her another worker had threatened to quit because of her, and it was “easier to replace a receptionist than a vehicle tester”, so she was dismissed.

She received a letter the following day, noting that she had resigned from her job and that the employer had accepted her resignation.

A cheque for €2,000 was enclosed.

Ms Cunningham said she had “some sympathy” for the employer, who had been faced with such hostility between his employee and the customer.

However, she accepted the evidence of the receptionist that she had been dismissed, noting the absence of any letter of resignation.

She said this dismissal had taken place without due process.

“Given the unpleasant circumstances of the complainant’s threatening emails, I find she contributed somewhat to the situation,” she said.

She ordered the centre to pay compensation of €3,520 for unfair dismissal and €880 as she was entitled to the statutory minimum notice of two weeks.