A security officer found asleep at work while guarding client assets worth millions of euros has failed in an action for unfair dismissal.
he Worker Relations Commission (WRC) heard that Jaroslaw Lukasiewicz had brought his own chair to work and was discovered sleeping in it by one of his managers after they tried to call him five times without success.
He admitted to being asleep on duty, off duty and without his uniform or identification badge. However, he blamed the company for creating the conditions that caused “jet lag” and made falling asleep “inevitable.”
Mr. Lukasiewicz claimed that he had been wrongfully terminated and filed a complaint with the WRC against his employer, K-tech Security Unlimited Company, for whom he had worked for more than two years at the time of the incident.
He was the sole guard on a housing estate in Co Offaly at the time of the incident in December 2019, and was responsible for “several million euros” worth of client assets.
The WRC heard that one of its superiors had traveled to the site concerned about the health and safety of Mr Lukasiewicz after being unable to reach him by phone from the control room.
When he arrived at the scene, the manager discovered that the complainant had brought his own chair to work and was asleep in it, away from his post and without his Private Security Authority (PSA) uniform or badge.
Mr. Lukasiewicz was sent home and invited to an investigative meeting the next day, where he admitted that he had fallen asleep on the job. He apologized at a subsequent disciplinary hearing, but a decision was made to terminate his employment.
The plaintiff appealed the decision, however, attributing the fact that he had been asleep to the fact that the company did not pay him a bonus. The decision to fire him was upheld.
In his presentation to the WRC, Mr Lukasiewicz said his employer had failed to take into account the “context” surrounding the incident. He had worked irregular 12-hour shifts, and this had affected his sleep pattern and left him “jet lagged”.
He said the company had created the conditions that caused this “jet lag” and made him “predisposed” to falling asleep on the job. The former employee added that sleeping on the job was “inevitable” due to the work system created by the firm.
In his decision to dismiss Mr. Lukasiewicz’s wrongful termination claim, adjudication officer Pat Brady noted that the former security guard never raised any objections or sought any variance in his shifts prior to the incident.
He said it was “easy to see” how a security company could consider firing within the range of reasonable responses to a sleeping guard on duty, given the potential business implications.
Mr. Brady said that he could find no basis to challenge the disciplinary process and noted that the plaintiff’s submissions had focused on the area of mitigation.
He dismissed the complaint and said that the termination of employment had been fair.