A MARKS & Spencer shop manager who was sacked for giving a customer too much change claims she offered to pay back the money in order to save her job.

Salma Ayoubi claims she was unfairly dismissed from her job as a section manager of the retail chain’s Liffey Valley store in February 2012 for gross misconduct, over what the retailer claims was breach of the company’s till procedure.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal heard that Ms Ayoubi, who lives in Co Meath, had a good employment record with the company and was promoted to a managerial position from that of a shop assistant within a year of being hired in 2006.

However, she was called into a meeting with her supervisors following an incident in early 2012 in which she was conducting a transaction involving a refund and gift card and inadvertently gave back the customer €90 too much.

Ms Ayoubi’s legal counsel, Eamon Marray, told the tribunal that the error was a “genuine mistake” and Ms Ayoubi immediately informed her supervisor when she realised what had happened, about an hour after the incident.

She apologised and offered to pay back the money and was also willing to be demoted as a punishment for the mistake, he added.

However, Tommy Kavanagh, Marks & Spencer’s human resources manager, said the company investigated the incident and found Ms Ayoubi had breached the company’s till procedure for not reporting the error immediately to her supervisor.

Mr Kavanagh said the error led to a loss of income to the company and Ms Ayoubi was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed.

She had also been given a formal warning over another unrelated incident – of which she ultimately appealed to the Rights Commissioner – at the time of the error, the tribunal heard.

However, when Ms Ayoubi attended an appeal hearing with senior management, she refused to engage and simply read out a statement alleging that her “employment rights have been ignored” and left, Mr Kavanagh told the tribunal.

Mr Kavanagh then issued a letter of dismissal dated February 13, 2012.

“I reviewed the procedures to ensure they were followed and they were,” he said of the company’s disciplinary process.

“We believe that fair procedures were followed.”

However, Mr Marray said Ms Ayoubi’s actions didn’t warrant dismissal.

He said his client was seeking compensation from the retailer for lost income if the tribunal ruled in Ms Ayoubi’s favour.

Ms Ayoubi, who was earning €28,669 a year, told the tribunal that she has been unable to secure employment since she left the retailer and is currently working as an intern on a FAS scheme.

The tribunal will issue a decision shortly.

Employment solicitors unfair dismissal

Irish Independent written by Allison Bray– 02 August 2013