A worker at an amusement company was forced to resign from his job under duress after he was brought out to sea in a speedboat by his boss and aggressively questioned for an hour over a missing €10,000.
In the case, the worker said that during the incident, 4km from shore, reference was made to the fact that he would not be able to reach land by swimming because of the coldness of the water.
The worker denied taking any money and told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that he was scared and cold during the questioning that continued for about one hour.
At that stage, a helicopter appeared and hovered in the area. The boat was untied from the buoy and made its way back to the harbour while the questions continued.
The worker told the WRC that he was subjected to physical and mental stress, was verbally abused and that he was forced to resign under duress.
He said three people questioned him on the speedboat, the company director, his line manager and a business associate of the company director.
The worker said that all three were asking him questions about stealing money from the company and that the director was aggressive in his language.
The boat trip took place on a day off from work for the employee and he said that when they returned to shore, he was forced to resign from his job when he signed a resignation letter that had been prepared for him.
The letter, dated April 27, 2017, stated: “I refer to our conversation this morning and wish to confirm my decision to resign with immediate effect”, and was signed by the worker.
The firm subsequently posted out a money order of wages that were owed to the worker and the worker returned the order with a note stating: “What you planned and did to me last Thursday morning was unforgivable. I have been a loyal, committed employee for years. I can’t understand why. Why did you do what you did?”
On the speedboat incident, the worker said that he subsequently made a complaint to gardaí but that no criminal prosecution had followed.
However, the WRC has upheld the man’s claim for unfair dismissal and has awarded him €889.
The award is low as the man has been in receipt of disability payments since resigning his post. Also, as the man has been unavailable for work, he is deemed not to be suffering any financial loss.
Referring to the speed-boat incident, WRC Adjudication Officer Joe Donnelly found that the man was unfairly dismissed in spite of the company director offering a version of events that was completely at odds with the worker’s account.
Mr Donnelly stated: “On the balance of probabilities, the resignation of the complainant was brought about by duress due to the actions of the respondent.”