Bin man fired for 'hitting vending machine and taking Coca-Cola that fell' to receive £19k unfair dismissal payout

Jacob Jarvis

A bin man fired after hitting a broken vending machine and taking bottles of coke which fell out will be paid nearly £20,000 after a tribunal found he was unfairly dismissed.

Mr M P Moran, a former waste operative in the City of London for Amey, was accused by his past employers of theft and lost his job.

Agreeing to the payout, the business said it acknowledged there were “shortcomings” in how it dealt with the situation but insisted it had since improved on how such incidents are handled.

On the day in question, Mr Moran arrived at work for 5.30am and was tired due to a bad night’s sleep, which the tribunal noted may have been due to him having Type 1 diabetes.

Mr Moran said he was having a hypoglycaemic episode at the start of his shift and attempted to get a hot chocolate from a drinks machine.

After this Mr Moran went to the vending machine, which was broken, and “struck it with notable force”.

The worker put the bottles of coke in a rucksack after they fell out (AFP/Getty Images)

This caused around six bottles of coke to fall out and, according to Mr Moran, a chocolate bar that he ate.

Mr Moran put the bottles into his bag and took them to hand out to colleagues, some of whom had lost money in the broken machine the previous day.

The next day, when vending machine operators arrived to fix the device, it was noted that stock had been taken and CCTV was reviewed.

This led to Mr Moran being suspended and there was then an investigation into what the company alleged to be “theft of confectionary and drink products”.

It was argued witnesses mentioned by Mr Moran that might have verified his account were not interviewed by the HR staff deciding his fate.

They might have confirmed he was having an episode and also that he gave the bottles to colleagues who had paid for them.

The third party company which ran the vending machine also deemed the taken goods had been paid for, so therefore they were not entirely stolen.

Mr Moran appealed after his dismissal, which came in 2014 but was delayed in coming to tribunal, though this was not upheld.

The tribunal, held at London Central earlier this month, found that Mr Moran was unfairly dismissed by his employer, who he had worked for since 2010.

However, it rejected he was discriminated against for a disability, stating though his hypoglycaemic attack might have contributed to his behaviour it was not in itself why he was fired.

The business and Mr Moran have agreed a remedy payment of £19,773.60, the tribunal noted.

A spokesman for Amey said: “We accept the tribunal panel’s decision in relation to this case. We expect our employees to uphold the highest standards of integrity, however acknowledge there were shortcomings in the way we responded to this incident in 2014.

“We have made significant improvements since then to our processes and training.”