Limerick Grandmother wins her case at the WRC

Geraldine O’Donnell (Image: SIPTU)

A Limerick woman and SIPTU member, who was let go from her job after allegedly taking a pair of socks she believed were set to be disposed of, has won her case for unfair dismissal.

Sixty-six-year-old, mother of five, Geraldine O’Donnell, was awarded €15,000 at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Ms O’Donnell was working on a community job initiative scheme across a variety of community centres, over the past thirty years.

In November 2022, she was accused of taking a pair of children’s socks that had been left behind from a previous project with a pile of old boxes, that she believed were set to be disposed of.

Ms O’Donnell took the case to the WRC, where she explained that she believed the pair of socks with a red bow, were set to be disposed of and were only valued at roughly €1.75.

She had intended to give them to her granddaughter as she believed no one had any further use for them.

Although, when her supervisor noticed the missing socks, a flawed investigation was completed, according to SIPTU.

Speaking about the case, SIPTU Workers Rights Centre Advocate, Victoria Stephens, said: “At the WRC, we argued that the member was not a dishonest person, as alleged, as she had admitted to taking the socks when asked by her employer.

“We argued that a person is only guilty of stealing when ‘he or she dishonestly appropriates property without the consent of its owner and to deprive its owner of it’. This did not occur.”

Ms Stephens said that the adjudication officer deemed €15,000 the appropriate compensation, for the unfair termination.

The plaintiff was due to retire in January 2024.

Speaking after the decision, Ms O’Donnell stated: “I would firstly like to say thank you to my SIPTU representative Victoria, she has restored my faith in humanity in this horrific journey. It has not been an easy year and a half for myself and my family.

“I now wish to enjoy my retirement proud that I served my community for many years without a blemish on my good name.”

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