A Tesco delivery driver has been awarded a £17,000 payout after he was sacked for going home to use his own toilet during his shifts.
Billy Fitzsimmons was told he couldn't use the staff toilet at stores where he didn't work – despite having a host of medical issues that cause him to need the toilet regularly and at short notice.
He was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection in 2018, has an enlarged prostate, and has problems with his bowel.
Mr. Fitzsimmons decided to pop in to his home in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, to relieve himself while on shift and in between deliveries in the local area.
However he was sacked for breaking rules forbidding staff from taking company vehicles home.
Tesco said that his actions were found to be a 'complete disregard and abuse of' the company policy.
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A tribunal heard that data from tracking systems built in to Tesco's fleet of delivery vans which record the speed and location of the vehicles every five minutes revealed that he had stopped at home 34 times, for a total of 795 minutes – an average of 23 minutes per stop.
Despite Mr. Fitzsimmons always making his deliveries on time, and there being no complaints had been made about his service, it prompted a formal investigation.
It was at this point that the driver explained his health issues, of which Tesco had been unaware previously.
Eventually he was dismissed for gross misconduct, with the letter from his manager 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."
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At the hearing, employment Judge Melanie Sangster ordered Tesco to pay Fitzsimmons £15,613 in compensation and a further £2,020 for injury to feeling.
However, she dismissed other claims of discrimination arising from disability, failure to make a reasonable adjustments and wrongful dismissal.
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Judge Sangster told the court that by the time Fitzsimmons had been dismissed, his employer was full aware of his urinary and bowel problems, which sometimes meant he soiled his clothes and needed to change.
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."
A Tesco spokesperson said: "We are disappointed by the outcome of this case and will consider what we can learn from it."
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