Essex Sainsbury's worker sacked after 20 years for clicking 'zero bags used' on self-service checkout

A Sainsbury's worker in Essex who had worked for the supermarket for almost two decades was sacked when he took bags for life without paying. Niamke Doffou was packing up a £30 shop at the end of a night shift when he selected the 'zero bags used' option on a self-checkout machine.

The employee was sacked by his bosses after reviewing CCTV footage that showed him not paying for the bags. The bags for life typically cost between 30p and 60p.

Mr Doffou, giving evidence, accepted Sainsbury's zero-tolerance approach to theft but insisted he was 'tied' and "unaware of what he was doing" when he took them without paying, the Mirror reports. Mr Doffou worked as a night shift assistant at the Romford Sainsbury’s Superstore in East London from June 2003 until he was fired in October 2022.

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During the August bank holiday in 2022, Niamke did some personal shopping in the early morning after working a night shift, buying pillows and bedding. The tribunal was told he made ‘more than one’ trip to get bags, despite selecting the ‘zero bags used’ option on the screen and checking his receipt at the end of his shopping.

The East London hearing was told: “[The disciplinary chair] formed the view he had deliberately selected the zero bags option on the self-checkout knowing full well he would need some to put his bulky shopping in. This in turn she concluded meant [Sainsbury’s] could no longer have trust in [Mr Doffou] as an employee even if the bags did not cost as much as his shopping had.” He appealed this decision, but this was dismissed.

Employment Judge Eleena Misra KC said: “Having considered all of the evidence before me I concluded the claim for unfair dismissal is not well founded and is therefore dismissed. The CCTV footage and receipt clearly proved to [Sainsbury’s] [Mr Doffou] took bags for life without paying for them.

“[Sainsbury’s] carried out a reasonable and proportionate investigation into the alleged conduct and he was given a full opportunity to respond [Mr Doffou]’s explanations were not deemed to be credible explanations and [Sainsbury’s] was entitled on the evidence to conclude he had committed misconduct notwithstanding the low value of the bags taken. Once the decision maker had concluded he had acted dishonestly and committed theft, it is very hard to argue the decision to dismiss fell outside a reasonable band of responses. I find it was within such a band.”