Belfast Telegraph

Tesco sacks worker who bought price error Surf liquid

By Barry Duggan

A Tesco employee in the Republic of Ireland has been fired for buying two bottles of Surf detergent after failing to report a pricing error on the product.

Janet Sheehan, who was responsible for checking prices were correct, saved €15 (£12.55) on her purchase in 2009 -- but lost her job at Tesco in Arthur's Quay shopping centre in Limerick within weeks of the incident.

An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) was told yesterday that Ms Sheehan believes she was unfairly dismissed from her job as a systems checker with the supermarket chain.

Ms Sheehan, from Dooradoyle, Limerick, joined Tesco in 1994 and had an unblemished record before the incident.

As a systems checker, it was her job to ensure that the price advertised for products on sale in the shop tallied with the same price at the till.

On the morning of November 7, 2009, she scanned through two bottles of Surf liquid which should have been priced at €19, but incorrectly came up at €4.

Yesterday, on behalf of Tesco, Michael McGrath of IBEC, said Ms Sheehan later purchased the same items for herself for €4.

The incident came to light the following day and the worker met with Tesco store manager Ben Martin and admitted the allegations.

Mr Martin told the hearing that his former colleague had "a very important role for customers and the store" which required trust, adding that she should have reported the incorrect price to a helpdesk -- as was the procedure.

She was suspended with pay five days after the incident and a disciplinary meeting was held on November 23, 2009, where Ms Sheehan did not dispute the facts of what happened.

Mr Martin said there had been a breach of Tesco policy and Ms Sheehan received a letter of immediate dismissal from her employment on December 3, 2009.

She appealed the dismissal and claimed it was too harsh a penalty and not warranted, but the decision was subsequently upheld by the company.

Mr Martin said if the same incident happened again today, the same sanction would be taken.

Michelle O'Riordan, solicitor for Ms Sheehan, asked the store manager if he took into account her employment record for the previous 15 years and the fact that it was her first offence. Mr Martin replied that he "took the case in front of me into account".

EAT Chairman Leachlain O Cathain adjourned the hearing for further evidence to be heard at a later date.

Belfast Telegraph


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