An employee who allegedly hacked into the intranet of multinational company Bausch & Lomb and posted a 'company message' saying there would be 500 job cuts after Christmas, has been awarded €6,500 compensation for unfair dismissal.
Elton Walker of Newports Terrace in Waterford, who worked for the contact lens manufacturer for 15 years, admitted he posted some messages but denied he was responsible for the one about job cuts.
A company spokesman told the tribunal the message – "500 jobs to be gone at Waterford plant before end of quarter 2008" – had caused "serious industrial relations issues" in the company.
An immediate investigation was launched to find out how the system was breached and to pinpoint which of the company's 400 PCs was used.
Two PCs, one of which was Walker's workstation, the other used by a female worker, were identified as the source of the hoax message.
Both employees were suspended with pay but after a further investigation the other employee was cleared.
In his defence, Walker said the company had produced no clear evidence it was he who had posted the message. Through his solicitor, Walker said the company had failed to produce CCTV evidence, which would have been more conclusive.
Tribunal chairman Sean O'Riordain said he was satisfied that the company's investigation was both "thorough and fair".
"The conclusion that the claimant [Walker] placed the offending message on the respondent company's intranet was, on the balance of probabilities, reasonable," said the chairman.
But despite the "serious mischief and damage" caused, O'Riordain felt dismissal was "not the appropriate sanction" suggesting most reasonable employers would have gone for a financial penalty/suspension plus a final written warning instead.
But in awarding Walker €6,500 the tribunal chairman added: "In many respects, the claimant is, unfortunately, the author of his own misfortune."