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OFF BEAT: Adjuster who drove her way out of a job winds up with settlement

Posted On: Aug. 20, 2014 12:00 AM CST

Even when a loss assessor contributes to losses for the insurer she works for it’s apparently not sufficient grounds in Ireland to fire her.

An Irish loss-adjusting company was found to have unfairly dismissed the accident-prone employee whose mishaps included reversing her car into the vehicle of a man whose house was on fire at the time.

The Dublin-based Employment Appeals Tribunal this month found that Galway, Ireland-based Cleary’s Insurance Services had unfairly fired loss assessor Linda Lydon and ordered the company to pay her €17,908 ($23,997). She was dismissed for gross misconduct after a series of car accidents during her employment with the company.

In December 2008, just four months after joining the company, Ms. Lydon was sent to the scene of a fire at a row of houses to distribute information brochures about her employer’s services.

After distributing the brochures, the hapless Ms. Lydon reportedly reversed her car into that of one of the residents whose house was ablaze.

Ms. Lydon, who had only received her full driving license in October 2008, claimed that rather than just leaving the scene she had left her phone number with a neighbor of the man.

In October 2010, Ms. Lydon was again involved in a motor accident when she hit a barricade in a parking lot while veering to avoid a child.

The following month, the luckless driver again was involved in an accident when she totalled her car crashing into a traffic light.

No one was injured in the incident and Ms. Lydon was not prosecuted.

During the course of her employment with Cleary’s, the mishap-prone loss assessor also was issued with a speeding ticket and separately was caught using her mobile phone while driving.

Although she suggested to her employer that she take an advanced driving course to restore her employer’s confidence in her motoring skills, Ms. Lydon, who was already on a written warning at the time of the accident, was dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2010.

Ms. Lydon appealed that decision, but the company’s finance manager upheld the firing, stating that she would feel responsible were Ms. Lydon to be involved in any further accidents and that she believed Ms. Lydon’s attitude, rather than her ability to drive, was at issue, according to the report from the EAT.

The EAT, however, found that Ms. Lydon’s behavior did not amount to gross misconduct and that she had been unfairly dismissed.