Tesco Delivery Driver Awarded £17,000 After Being Fired For Using Loo At Home
A supermarket delivery driver has received a £17,000 pay out after being sacked by Tesco for popping home to use the toilet during shifts.
Billy Fitzsimmons, from Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, was told he couldn’t use the staff toilet at stores where he didn’t work.
However, he suffers from a number of medical conditions, including a urinary tract infection diagnosed in 2018 and an enlarged prostate, meaning he often requires a bathroom at short notice.
Fitzsimmons decided to simply pop into his house to use his own loo if he was out on deliveries nearby, but as Tesco bans employees from taking company vehicles home his actions were found to be a ‘complete disregard and abuse of’ the company policy.
A tribunal heard how all Tesco delivery vans are fitted with tracking systems, and that these record the speed and location of the vehicles every five minutes.
Although Fitzsimmons always managed to make his deliveries on time, and no complaints had been made about his service, his bosses found that he had stopped at home 34 times, for a total of 795 minutes.
This prompted a formal investigation where Fitzsimmons explained his health issues, of which Tesco had been unaware of previously.
But he was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct, with the letter from his manager outlining the reasoning behind his dismissal, saying: “It is my belief that there has been a complete disregard and abuse of Tesco policies at a level I have not seen in my career.”
Employment Judge Melanie Sangster has since ordered Tesco to pay Fitzsimmons £15,613 in compensation and a further £2,020 for injury to feeling, saying he clearly had ‘genuine health concerns’.
Sangster said that by the time Fitzsimmons had been dismissed, his employer was fully aware of his urinary and bowel problems, which sometimes meant he also needed to change his clothes.
She said: “It was accordingly clear that [Mr Fitzsimmons] had genuine health issues which required ease of access to toilet facilities.
That ease of access could be guaranteed at [his] home, but not elsewhere and was accordingly, latterly, the reason for returning home to use his own bathroom facilities, in periods when he would otherwise have been parked up in the local area.
“No reasonable employer would have dismissed the claimant for returning home to use his own facilities in these circumstances.”
Fitzsimmons also made a separate claim of discrimination arising from disability and claims of failure to make a reasonable adjustments and wrongful dismissal.
However, these claims were dismissed. A Tesco spokesperson said that they were disappointed by the outcome of this case and will consider what we can learn from it.
Therefore, it is important that as an employer during any investigation or disciplinary situation that any mitigating factors are taken into account and to see if a reasonable adjustment could have been put in place to assist the employee.