An employee was dismissed for allegedly grabbing his boss’ buttock.

He was employed for 31 years without a hint of misconduct.  In recognition of his sales achievements he received an award at the company’s awards evening.  According to the Managing Director of the company, when he posed for a photograph the employee cupped his buttock.  When confronted with the allegation the employee accepted that he may have touched his boss’ buttock but said that this was accidental.

The company’s HR manager investigated the allegation and the employee was dismissed.  The employee took a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal and sought interim reinstatement.  The Employment Relations Authority held that the company was wrong in dismissing the employee before a full hearing, and reinstated him. The company appealed that decision in the Employment Court but lost.

A major factor in this case was the existence of video footage of the award ceremony.  The employer had claimed that he was shocked and upset when the employee cupped his buttock.  However, the film of the event did not show any distress on the employer’s part.  Rather, he could be seen in a jovial and friendly mood throughout the alleged incident.  Justice favoured reinstating the employee pending a full hearing, as the longer he was away from his clients the harder it would be to reintegrate into the sales team, he had served for 31 years with a spotless record, and there was little likelihood of any future misconduct.

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