The Employment Appeals Tribunal has found that Kepak in Ballymahon unfairly dismissed one of its employees.
The hearing was told that Kepak had hired a surveillance firm to ‘spy’ at weekends on the worker who had logged a number of grievances against the firm.
The employee, Noel Farrell (54) - a night time cleaning supervisor at the company - was awarded €25,000 in damages following the recent hearing.
The tribunal heard that Mr Farrell was sacked by Kepak at Ballymahon in January 2013 and subsequently found the dismissal too “unreasonable and disproportionate”.
The Tribunal was told that on July 2012, while trying to unblock a drain at the meat plant, Mr Farrell got his arm stuck for four hours.
The fire brigade and a doctor were called and the doctor administered an injection to calm Mr Farrell down.
After being eventually freed from the drain, the employee was taken to hospital.
The tribunal heard that upon his return to work, Mr Farrell was assigned to other duties.
He subsequently hurt his back and was reassigned duties again.
A meeting was held at Kepak in October 2012 to look into grievances Mr Farrell had against the firm which included alleged failure to pay sick pay; the duties assigned on return to work and treatment by the firm following the drain incident.
The tribunal report noted that the surveillance firm which ‘spied’ on Mr Farrell on two successive Saturdays in October 2012 videoed him gardening for another man. A copy of this video evidence was made available to the tribunal with reports from the surveillance firm.
Kepak subsequently dismissed Mr Farrell alleging that he had made a “number of inconsistent statements in relation to his ongoing physical problems and to his fitness to work arising from the injuries sustained at the plant”.
The company also stated Mr Farrell’s actions had “irreparably damaged the trust and confidence so fundamental to an employment relationship”. The Employment Appeals Tribunal f ound Kepak had unfairly dismissed Mr Farrell and awarded him €25,000.