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€5,000 Unfair Dismissal Award for Bus Driver

€5,000 compensation for unfair dismissal has been awarded to Kenneth Folman, a former Bus Éireann worker who had been dismissed from his position following being disqualified from driving.

Despite the WRC adjudication officer ruling, on an earlier occasion, that the individual should be reinstated to his role in the aftermath of the unfair dismissal ruling, the Labour Court has returned a ruling that this should not happen and the man should not get his old job back.

The Labour Court was hearing the appeal, submitted by Bus Éireann following the WRC adjudication officer’s ruling. There was no appeal of the WRC ruling of unfair dismissal.

Mr Folman’s Bus Eireann contract was terminated in August 2019. Prior to this he had been employed by the commercial semi-state company on a full-time basis from the time period between June 2018 and August 2019.

Bus Éireann, as part of their defence informed the adjudicator that there had been many problems in relation to Mr Folman’s work performance that resulted in a final written warning in June 2019. It was added that the man had 100% ‘contributed to his own dismissal’.

Bus Eireann informed the WRC hearing that the man was unable to carry out the job he had been hired to carry out as he was involved in a court case where he was disqualified from driving. This, the group felt, left them in no position other than to terminate his contract of employment as the trust between the employee and the company had been damaged beyond repair. They added that they believe Mr Folman had successfully found employment with another company quite quickly. 

Mr Folman informed the WRc hearing that he was of the opinion that the incidents leading to the final written warning from Bus Eireann were as significant as they (Bus Eireann) were stating. As they were found worthy of a final writ he said that he believed that it was not just to depend on them to terminate his contract of employment.

The WRC adjudicator was also informed that Mr Folman successfully appealed his driving disqualification. Mr Folman stated that all new drivers experience significant incidents during this activity but without doing so they would not be able to become better drivers in time.

He was represented by the National Bus and Rail Workers’ Union, which claimed that Bus Eireann had proceeded from a final written warning to outright dismissal without affording Mr Folman the opportunity of having a fair hearing or the chance to appeal the decision.

Mr Folman informed the hearing that he was earning a weekly wage of around €79 less than he had been before he was dismissed from his Bus Eireann role. He 

Deputy chair Louise O’Donnell, as part of her ruling, said: “Safety is Bus Éireann’s first priority. We are satisfied with the outcome of the Labour Court appeal in this case and have no further comment to make.”

Due to this she said that does not believe reinstatement is appropriate but that she felt the compensation was the appropriate form of redress.