By Chris King • 14 September 2023 • 19:22
Image of Praia do Camilo beach on Portugal's Algarve.
Credit: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock.com
AN Irishman lost his job after deciding to go to Portugal for one week’s holiday in October 2022.
The car salesman, Gary Maloney, allegedly flew to the Algarve without first getting permission from his boss. While he was in the resort of Albufeira, he had the misfortune of bumping into his employer, who subsequently fired him, according to rte.ie.
In a case that has already gone to the Workplace Relations Commission, Mr Maloney has accused the Dublin-based company, Bill Griffin Motors Ltd, of dismissing him illegally.
According to his complaint brought under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977, the salesman claimed that when he requested a holiday for the week of October 10: ‘I didn’t get a yes, I didn’t get a no’.
He also pointed out that he was told: ‘Ah, it should be okay’, by the company’s sales director. Mr Maloney explained that he had been ordered to hand over his laptop within five minutes of returning to work on Monday 17 October 2022. He was subsequently told to leave the premises.
The sales director said he never approved the leave request as he wanted his full sales team at work while he and another director were to attend a family wedding.
David Griffin, the sales director, stated: ‘We were just left in a lurch’, referring to the salesman’s absence. Mr Mahoney’s request for time off was never approved he pointed out because he was expecting the full sales force to be available while he attended a wedding on the Algarve with another director.
‘We’d a lot of customers trying to ring Gary. We got a lot of complaints, and one large cancelled sale, a €60,000 Volvo XC90 that Gary had sold’, Mr Griffin continued.
The employee had also allegedly gone away leaving behind a ‘huge amount of leads’ and bookings for the sale of at least 20 cars.
Mr Griffin insisted that all attempts to contact Mr Maloney that week, either by telephone or post, proved futile. The salesman however denied ever receiving such communications from the company.
Giving evidence, another director who attended the wedding in Portugal described how he bumped into Mr Maloney in a bar in Albufeira.
‘Uh, is Dave here?’, Robert Griffin quoted the salesman as asking him while making a ‘hiding’ gesture, as the company’s barrister later described it. ‘He knew he shouldn’t have been there, he should have been in work’, Mr Griffin added.
After bumping into the director, Mr Maloney asked for a selfie which he subsequently shared with his colleagues back in Ireland.
Speaking of the moment he spotted his employee, David Griffin detailed: ‘I saw him in a restaurant, but that could have been Thursday or Friday. I just stayed away; no point bringing an HR issue on a family holiday – a wedding’.
On his return to work, Mr Maloney was approached by David Fleming, another of the company’s employees, who asked where he had been the week before.
Mr Maloney told the tribunal that he told his colleague: ‘Number one, well, he knew where I was, I was away in the sun because I had a tan. Number two, I was aware that the person I’d sent the photo to had circulated it to all the other staff’.
The salesman explained: ‘I was told to go home. I was told to leave the laptop on the premises and that Dave was going to be home on Tuesday and he would contact me’. He also pointed out that Mr Fleming told him: ‘If he Dave does come and offer your job back it’s either you or me’.
Giving evidence: Mr Fleming stated: ‘I asked: ‘Where were you.’ Obviously, we knew because of the picture. He shrugged his shoulders. He said he had to go. Was I a bit angry? Yes. Was I screaming and shouting? No’.
Mr Fleming continued: ‘He turned around and shrugged his shoulders, handed back the laptop and said: ‘Don’t worry about it, I’m done, make sure I’m paid.’ He handed the laptop back, with both hands: ‘I’m owed a few quid, make sure they pay’ – those sort of words’.
In his defence, referring to that exchange of words, Mr Maloney told the tribunal that he actually asked Mr Fleming: ‘Am I done? There was a question mark. It was a question’.
In a legal submission, Eoin O’Connor BL, acting on behalf of Mr Maloney for Richard Bowman Solicitors, stated: ‘We say he was dismissed rather than resigned’.
The way his client was dismissed was unfair insisted Mr O’Connor, since there had been no proper investigation nor any allegation put to him.
Mr Maloney came into the workplace on the Monday: ‘To hand in his resignation orally’, according to Hugh O’Donnell BL, on behalf of Bill Griffin Motors. He was not dismissed he claimed and the due wages were paid to him at the end of the month.
After claiming that he had then gone looking for new employment after being informed at the end of October by the Revenue Commissioners that he was no longer an employee of Bill Griffin Motors, Mr O’Donnell insisted that his client was entitled to view evidence to that fact, and asked permission to cross-examine Mr Maloney about it.
Mr Maloney was given two weeks by Davnet O’Driscoll from the adjudicating office to submit proof of the losses he had claimed. The former salesman also agreed to provide evidence that proved his search for a new employer. The matter was subsequently adjourned under legal review.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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