Tribunal finds airport worker was unfairly sacked two years after his death

Isle of Man Airport, Ronaldsway

Isle of Man Airport, Ronaldsway

An airport worker who was sacked from his job at Ronaldsway has been vindicated by an employment tribunal – more than two years after his death.

The tribunal found that Shaun McGee, who died in March 2014 at the age of 51, had been unfairly dismissed.

Unite union regional officer Eric Holmes hailed the decision as a very welcome recognition that his good character has been restored, albeit posthumously.

Mr McGee’s ordeal began in December 2012 when he was dismissed from his job as an apron hand at the airport due to grounds of capability. He had been employed at the airport for seven years and had a very good work record. He lived in Douglas.

That month he was convicted of damaging a rear windscreen wiper valued at £10, the offence arising from a neighbour dispute. He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £50 costs. The neighbour had tipped off the airport director about the court appearance.

The employer firstly suspended and then dismissed him because he required an airport pass for his work and the criminal damage conviction meant a pass could only be issued if the conviction was disregarded.

The then head of the Department of Infrastructure, Ian Thompson, agreed to issue a certificate of disregard but airport director Ann Reynolds decided not to accept the certificate and Mr McGee’s job was terminated in February 2013.

Miss Reynolds criticised him for failing to inform his managers about his court appearance. She told him: ‘I am left with the opinion that you have never been straight with us. You have never been honest with us regarding your actions and situation. Therefore there is an irrevocable breakdown of trust.’

In fact Mr McGee had kept the operations manager informed between the date of the offence in July and his conviction in December.

He pursued a complaint of unfair dismissal, but died in early 2014.

Concluding that he had been unfairly dismissed, the tribunal said it had been ‘unforgiveable’ for the airport director to have reached the conclusion she did without investigating the facts.

Unite regional officer Mr Holmes said: ‘We are delighted that justice has been done at last, even though sadly it was posthumously for Shaun and the family he left behind – his last months marred by an unfair and ill-balanced decision by his employer.

‘We are jubilant, however, that his character has now been restored as being that of a “good and proper person”.’

A remedy hearing has been scheduled for July 1 to consider the level of compensation that should be awarded.

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