Tribunal Appeal Decision
Gas station justified to fire pump attendant
An employment tribunal has ruled that a gas station owner was within his rights to fire a pump attendant after a prolonged legal battle about a $50 bill dropped by a customer.
Earlston Bradshaw had claimed unfair dismissal from Raynor’s Service Station after management at the station alleged that he attempted to steal the cash and sacked him.
But in a decision dated November 8, the employment tribunal rejected his claim of wrongful dismissal.
Reginald Raynor, the owner of the Warwick service station, said that he was relieved that the reputation of his business had been restored.
Mr Raynor said: “It went on for four years and it has caused a lot of money financially and a lot of stress.
“But I felt we had to fight to protect our name, the name of the business and my parents, who had to fight to start it in 1958.”
Mr Bradshaw was fired from the service station in January 2015 after a customer complained that the pump attendant had tried to steal a $50 bill the customer had dropped.
The customer said he noticed Mr Bradshaw put something in his pocket and later realised that a $50 bill was missing.
The customer confronted Mr Bradshaw outside the store and the attendant turned the bill over to him.
Mr Bradshaw said he had called out to ask if anyone had dropped the bill when he picked it up and put it in his pocket until he could find its rightful owner.
Management reviewed CCTV footage of the incident and called Mr Bradshaw in to a meeting, where he denied the theft. It was alleged he became “belligerent and abusive”.
Mr Bradshaw was fired, but he made a successful appeal to an employment tribunal, which in 2015 found that the service station should have given him the benefit of the doubt.
The tribunal found that Mr Bradshaw had brought the missing bill to the customer’s attention, but the court accepted that the customer had approached Mr Bradshaw.
The court also found that Mr Bradshaw at first denied he had seen the cash before he gave it back to the customer.
The Court of Appeal ordered the matter go back to a fresh tribunal, which held hearings on July 26 last year and October 11 this year.
The decision said: “The adviser to the employee would have the tribunal believe that the employee was unaware of the owner of the $50 bill which he found on the floor and that he had inquired into the ownership by asking if it belonged to anyone.
“This is not confirmed by the evidence presented. To the contrary, the video shows that the employee found the bill and placed it in his pocket. When approached by the customer, he denied any knowledge of the money.
“The video also does not support the employee’s claim that he asked if anyone had lost the $50 bill.”
The tribunal decision added that after Mr Bradshaw found the bill, he went to the cashier to deliver cash collected from customers at the pumps.
The decision said: “The tribunal believes that at this time, the employee had ample opportunity to hand over the money to the cashier. He did not do so, but returned to the pumps to continue selling gas.”
The tribunal heard there was a policy in place at the gas station that lost cash should be turned in to the cashier.
The decision said: “The tribunal believes that the employee was aware of the rules and regulations of the company, written or otherwise, and finds his argument that he has his own policy on what he is to do when finding lost items on the company’s property disconcerting.”
The tribunal denied Mr Bradshaw’s claim of unfair dismissal and found that in the circumstances the service station had the right to dismiss him on the spot.
• To view the tribunal appeal, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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