Bank official sacked after advising customer to sign ex-husband's name on cheque awarded €10k for unfair dismissal

By Gordon Deegan

A bank sacked one of its officials for advising a customer to sign her ex-husband’s name on the back of a bank draft that allowed her to lodge the draft to her own account.

Now, the bank has been ordered to pay €10,000 to the sacked Senior Customer Adviser after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that the man was unfairly dismissed.

In his ruling, WRC Adjudication Officer, Eugene Hanly said that the “punishment did not fit the ‘crime’”.

In the case, the official - who had a clear and unblemished record with the bank for 10.5 years before the incident in September 2017 - was sacked in February of this year following an investigation.

On September 25, 2017, the official advised a customer to sign her former husband’s name on the back of a bank draft, made payable to the customer and her former husband, to facilitate the lodging of the bank draft into the customer’s account.

The bank stated that the decision to dismiss was reasonable and not unfair.

The bank stated that the worker’s conduct breached three of the Bank’s policies and that it operates a zero-tolerance approach to conduct and activities that are deliberate in their actions.

The bank stated that the official advised a customer to commit a fraudulent act and breach three policies and in doing so caused a financial loss to the named party on the bank draft.

The man sued for unfair dismissal and the WRC has upheld his claim.

In his ruling, Mr Hanly found that the official’s actions compromised the bank’s reputation and constituted serious misconduct warranting serious disciplinary action.

However, Mr Hanly found that the worker’s actions did not constitute gross misconduct and that the dismissal was substantively unfair.

Mr Hanly found that the worker did not gain personally from this transaction.

The official notified his manager of the incident following a call querying the cheque by another bank branch.

Mr Hanly pointed out that the official was allowed to continue working in the same section, in a position of trust for a period of two months after the incident came to light.

Mr Hanly stated that if the bank could trust the official for two months after this incident came to light then they could have extended this and apply any number of lesser sanctions, as suggested by the official.

Since the man’s dismissal, he has applied to the Airport Authority, Revenue, Post Office, IKEA for a job without success.

Mr Hanly stated that he found that dismissal was both substantively and procedurally unfair but that the official has contributed substantially to his dismissal.

He said: “This has to be taken into consideration when deciding the quantum of the award.”

In his evidence, the official acknowledged that his actions were a serious breach of the bank's policies of cash handling and cashing policy, fraud prevention policy, code of ethics.

He stated that he realised the error in judgement and admitted his wrongdoing and guilt.

He stated that he has apologised for his mistake and that there was no malice or intent in his actions and he did not gain personally from this transaction.

The worker stated that the sanction imposed was “too severe and disproportionate to the offence and a lesser sanction should have been applied”.

He said that the bank “could have considered suspension without pay, special probationary period, demotion and retraining”.

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