JLR UNFAIRLY FIRED WORKER IN ROW OVER ENGINE FUMES; EXCLUSIVE.
Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Sunday Mercury Writer
AJAGUAR Land Rover worker was unfairly sacked after complaining that exhaust fumes from cars on the Solihull production line were making him ill.
Paul O'Connor, who worked as a "door wrapper", blamed the fact that vehicles were being started up too early on the line, a Birmingham employment tribunal was told.
He repeatedly raised concerns about the fumes, which he said made his throat sore and were causing him stress.
The cars were supposed to be started up at the end of the line where there was an extractor - but they were often started four car-lengths away from it, the tribunal heard.
Things came to a head on January 15, 2018, when Mr O'Connor took it upon himself to work another section of the line.
When told to move, he walked to his locker, took his belongings and went home.
On the same day, Mr O'Connor, who had worked for Jaguar Land Rover for 23 years, was signed off by his GP with stress.
Following a disciplinary hearing, he was dismissed for being in breach of the company's code of conduct by refusing to comply with a "reasonable and authorised" instruction.
But tribunal judge Meachen noted: "We think it was unreasonable to ignore the fact that the claimant was signed off for 28 days with stress following this incident.
"We think a reasonable investigation would have attempted to understand the reasons why the claimant was experiencing such a high level of stress, and considered the impact of this stress level on the claimant's decision-making."
Tests had shown the level of pollution on the line was safe, but, Mr O'Connor alleged, his concerns were not taken seriously enough.
He was described at the hearing as an "honest and straightforward witness."
Judge Meachen felt Mr O'Connor's refusal to return to an area of the workplace he considered unsafe was reasonable.
His report stated: "Faced with the stark instruction that he should go to work straightaway in the very area where he repeatedly reported that he had been exposed to fumes without corrective action by the respondents, we think the claimant's action was appropriate.
"We are satisfied that the reason for dismissal was the step which the claimant took to protect himself from danger. His case was not investigated."
A remedy hearing is to take place in March.
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|Author:||MIKE LOCKLEY Sunday Mercury Writer|
|Publication:||Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)|
|Date:||Feb 9, 2020|
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