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Cinema Manager Sacked For Falling Asleep Wins Unfair Dismissal Claim

Cinema manager sacked for falling asleep wins unfair dismissal claim

A cinema manager sacked for falling asleep at his desk and smelling of alcohol has won his unfair dismissal claim.

A Workplace Relations Commission awarded him $A2,370 compensation.

He missed out on a greater amount because the Commission also found the man partly responsible for his dismissal.

Cinema manager sacked for falling asleep

James Sammon worked for the Galway Multiplex Ltd as general manager of the IMC Galway cinema in Ireland.

In July 2020, the company sacked him for misconduct, having conducted a “full, impartial and fair investigation and disciplinary process”.

A HR manager told the Commission a customer email alleged the manager had “looked intoxicated” on Sunday 17, November 2019.

The company had promoted Sammon from duty manager two weeks previously.

The HR manager also alleged two supervisors working at the multiplex had made further allegations against Sammon.

One said he had “fallen asleep on duty” on Monday 18 November.

Young worker sent to buy alcohol and cigarettes

The other said Sammon sent him to out to buy alcohol and cigarettes for him the following day.

The HR manager said CCTV footage showed Sammon “under the influence of alcohol” and that he had been “asleep at his desk”.

Furthermore, another staff member took a photo of the manager asleep at the desk.

Finally, the supervisors reported that Sammon “smelled strongly of alcohol”.

Workplace investigation

Galway Multiplex suspended Sammon with pay and determined at a meeting (which he refused to attend) that he had fallen asleep at work.

However, Sammon later told the Commission another manager of the cinema chain came to him days before the meeting and “told him that he was fired”.

She told him “he was to leave the premises immediately and to hand over the keys”.

He described suffering from “a nervous breakdown” at the time, and believed he would be unable to function properly at the meeting.

He submitted a sick certificate on 26 November confirming he was suffering from depression and remained on sick leave until 10 March 2020.

The company said a disciplinary hearing was delayed until July 2020 as a result.

It ultimately decided to dismiss Sammon on 17 July 2020 for falling asleep on the job.

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Unfair dismissal claim

During the unfair dismissal hearing, Sammon apologised for sending the junior worker for cigarettes and alcohol and accepted this was “indefensible”.

He explained that he smelled of alcohol because he had been drinking the previous night.

He apologised for falling asleep at the desk.

Sammon told the Commission the cinema company required him to work up to 58 hours a week due to staff shortages.

He also explained he had a newborn child and had been suffering sleep depravation at the time.

He complained that his employer failed to allow him to take his statutory break entitlements and daily rest periods.

Sammon said he asked the company’s HR manager to recruit new staff and a replacement duty manager but “nothing happened” until after he was suspended.

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