Dunnes worker who phoned in sick was spotted belly dancing

A belly dancing teacher has failed in his unfair dismissal action against retail giant, Dunnes Stores.

The Employment Tribunal in the Republic of Ireland has dismissed belly dancer Kati Kipli’s claim that she was unfairly dismissed by the retailer on June 2, 2016.

The decision after a two-day hearing in Limerick confirms an earlier ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that Ms Kipli was not unfairly dismissed.

She was employed as a part-time sales assistant by Dunnes Stores from December 2007 to June 2016.

The retailer sacked Ms Kipli after mounting a ‘spy operation’ on someone who revealed she was giving a belly dancing lesson at a local hotel after calling in sick complaining of a kidney infection more early in the day.

On May 17, 2016, Ms. Kipli was scheduled to work from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

However, she contacted the human resources manager of Dunnes Stores Harvey’s Quay on Henry Street by telephone at 1 p.m. that day to let him know that she was unwell due to a kidney infection and to inform her that she could not work her shift.

Ms Kipli phoned again at 4 p.m. and said her condition had not improved and that she was going to bed for the night.

The HR manager knew that Ms. Kipli was to lead a belly dancing class that evening.

The HR manager phoned the Strand Hotel and was told that the belly dancing class was taking place that evening.

The human resources manager asked a colleague, the cashier manager of the store, to witness Ms. Kipli’s presence at the hotel and the cashier manager saw Ms. Kipli at the hotel wearing a “purple pink outfit where the belly dancing class was taking place. will take place at 8:30 p.m., with a group of ladies attending the class.

The next day, when Ms Kipli showed up for work, she was asked about the belly dancing class.

Ms Kipli initially denied attending her dance class at the hotel but later admitted she had been there after the HR manager said she had been observed in the room just before the beginning of the course.

As a result, the store’s grocery manager held two meetings to investigate the events of May 16.

Following these meetings, Dunnes Stores terminated Ms Kipli on June 2, 2016.

The dismissal letter told Ms Kipli that she had admitted to doing other paid employment while on sick leave from the company.

The letter stated: ‘This constitutes misconduct which constitutes a serious violation of the company’s code of conduct.’

Dunnes told her she had made the decision “to terminate your contract with immediate effect. We considered other sanctions but after all, dismissal is the only appropriate sanction to take”.

The grocery store manager told the labor court: ‘The reason she was fired was that she took her belly dancing class when she should have been at work.’

Dunnes said Ms Kipli conducted the course knowing she would be paid under the company’s sick leave scheme.

Ms Kipli’s lawyer has argued that the entire process – beginning with the return to work meeting on May 18, 2016 – which culminated in Ms Kipli’s summary dismissal was unfair and that the decision to terminate her was predetermined .

The industrial tribunal found that the flaws in Dunnes’ procedures were not so serious as to affect the fairness of Ms Kipli’s dismissal process.

The employment tribunal found that Ms Kipli had admitted that she had both taken and taught the dance class, after initially denying that she had done so.

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