Court Rules for Dismissed Waitresses
Two waitresses were sacked from a well-known restaurant in a high-profile dispute over tips because they had been involved in trade union activity, according to a ruling in the Labour Court.
The court rejected the reasons given for the sackings by the Ivy Restaurant in Dublin and accused management at the restaurant of submitting a false report. The case involving the two women led to protests outside the Dawson Street restaurant in 2019 and influenced the initiation of new legislation on tipping following a meeting between the women and then Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty.
The General Scheme of the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and Gratuities) Bill will outlaw the practice of including tips as part of a basic pay rate in the hospitality industry.
Ms Marciniak and her colleague Lenka Laiermanova were dismissed allegedly on the basis of incidents in the restaurant. However, after the first month in employment, they had been informed that tips would go towards filling the gap between the national minimum wage and the rate they had been recruited at.
They protested, but despite assurances, the issues were not resolved, and both women joined the trade union Unite and encouraged others on the waiting staff to do so. They were subsequently disciplined over service to a customer. The Workplace Relations Commission didn’t accept that the sackings were due to trade union activity, but the Labour Court upheld the women’s appeal.
The court found the actions of the restaurant management ‘raise serious concerns about the bona fides of the allegations against the complainants [the two women]’; that the restaurant manager ‘submitted a report that was factually incorrect’. And in the case of each woman, ‘the case supports the complainant’s contention that the allegations of "misconduct" were an attempt to hide the real reason for her dismissal, which was because of her trade union activities.'
The only compensation available to the women was for loss of earnings after their dismissal and before they obtained other employment. In the case of Ms Laiermanova, this amounted to €7,924, and for Ms Marciniak a sum of €2,016 was awarded.