An assistant manager at a Paddy Power betting shop who said her boss told her to take bets on credit lost her wrongful termination claim after being fired over it.
The Labor Relations Commission ruled that the complainant should have reported the practice to her branch, using the company’s whistleblower process, but instead went ahead “in an act of misplaced loyalty.”
Emma Phillips had complained against Flutter Entertainment under the Unfair Termination Act that the termination of her employment in November 2020 was a disproportionate penalty for misconduct, which she admitted.
Ms Phillips gave evidence that bets were taken on credit in “several instances” during her six-year bookmaking career, during which time she was promoted from assistant retailer to assistant store manager.
She said it could happen when a customer needed to go get money from an ATM or had forgotten to bring payment.
She said her branch manager allowed a particular person to place bets over the phone and pay later, and instructed another member of staff to accept bets from this customer in the same way.
When neither the manager nor the store clerk who had been given these instructions were in the store, Ms. Phillips said that she was “expected” to accept bets in the same way.
This meant falsifying the cash balance in the till and rectifying it later, he said. Ms Phillips said she was “deeply uncomfortable with these actions” and said she was doing it “only on the instructions of her manager” and that she was in an “extremely difficult position”.
He said at the hearing that the telephone betting issue was discussed in his presence between a district manager and his store manager. “The district manager stated that this is against policy, but no further action was taken,” he said.
As evidence from the hearing, the district manager said he “couldn’t recall the specific conversation.” He said that if he were made aware of such activity, he would “immediately declare that it is against company policy and that it should stop immediately.”
Ibec employer relations executive Niamh Ní Cheallaigh, who appeared for Flutter Entertainment, said Ms Phillips was called into an investigative meeting regarding an alleged breach of her security policies and procedures.
During the meeting, Ms Phillips revealed cases of credit gambling allowed in her shop and counterfeit cash shortages, presented by Ms Ní Cheallaigh, which meant that Ms Phillips “accepted as truth” her accusations.
The disciplinary process concluded that she had “knowingly violated” the company’s credit and cash policies and therefore “the bond of trust had been broken”, Ms Ní Cheallaigh said. Ms. Phillips was terminated for gross misconduct on November 25, 2020.
Awarding officer Brian Dolan noted that Paddy Power’s rules on credit betting and cash handling were “understandably strict”.
“The complainant, to her credit, has at all times accepted that she knowingly and willfully violated the store’s cash and credit handling procedures,” Mr. Dolan wrote.
He pointed to Ms Phillips’ argument that the district manager should have “done more to prevent the misconduct from occurring” and said he could not rule in her favor.
The dismissal of Ms Phillips “could potentially be seen as a harsh outcome”, she wrote, but ruled that it “fell within the band of reasonable responses”.
He ruled that Ms. Phillips was not wrongfully terminated.