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How to fire a worker who mistreats customers

The courts have issued various rulings in which they censure the attitude of employees who serve customers poorly, but they do not always agree with the company.

HOSTELRY In the service sector, where customer service is a key issue, it is common to see problematic cases, such as that of a sales assistant who was fired after calling a client “fat” and “cow”, causing other people to also leave the service. local.

Customer service can be the key to a business, but what happens if an employee treats customers badly? What options does the company have in these cases? Although there are many cases in which the courts clearly support the maximum disciplinary sanction of dismissal – especially when irregular behavior is repeated and proven – it is not always easy to terminate the contract for these reasons.
A ruling from the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of Asturias has declared that the inattention and lack of respect of a doctor towards his patient and his family is not worthy of dismissal. According to the private entity for which he worked, which had a "significant history" against the doctor, nothing seemed to indicate that his behavior and "his confrontational attitude and lack of collaboration with the medical area in his performance would change in the future." of their responsibilities. However, the lower court declared the dismissal inadmissible, condemning the company to choose between reinstating the worker or paying compensation of more than 196,000 euros, a decision that has now been supported by the Asturian TSJ.
In the ruling, dated July 11, the court points out that, of the different contractual breaches that were attributed to the doctor, only one had been proven, "the one related to the inattention and lack of respect or correctness in the treatment of a patient and his daughter without having seriously damaged the image of the company. Something that, according to the TSJ, is classified as "a minor offense, susceptible to a verbal reprimand, a written reprimand or suspension of employment and salary of up to two days, but never the imposition of the maximum sanction of dismissal."
Troubled hairdresserIn a ruling from July 2013, the TSJ of Aragon does endorse, however, the disciplinary dismissal of a hairdresser who had caused the discomfort of various clients. The employee stained a woman's shirt with dye (for not covering it properly) and not only did she not apologize, but she blamed her.
He also received a complaint for having treated another woman and her young son in a bad manner, "whom he was scolding all the time, treating him with contempt." Furthermore, on another occasion, the employee deliberately hid from a family of Ukrainians that she understood their language, because she was a native of the same country, and only revealed it when it was time to get paid, showing them that she had understood their entire conversation, something that bothered them. those affected, who did not return.
Disruptive behaviorFor the court, this is conduct "totally harmful to the company, mistreatment in word and deed, lack of respect and consideration for the client", which constitutes a "very serious and culpable breach of obligations" in good faith. contractual reason for which the maximum sanction of dismissal protected in article 54 of the Workers' Statute was applicable.
Justice also ruled in favor of a food establishment that fired a sales assistant for seriously insulting a woman. After arguing with her boss and a colleague, she called a client who tried to mediate "fat" and "cow" and told her that "what she had to do was go home to wash and not return to the cafeteria again." ». Upon observing these events, other customers left the premises without even finishing their drink.
It was the case that the dismissed employee had a recognized degree of disability under 42% as she presented schizoaffective disorder associated with low normal intelligence and the company had received subsidies for hiring disabled workers.
The ruling, handed down by the TSJ of Andalusia in 2007, states that the establishment must ensure "preserve the clientele who must be treated with the utmost respect since they are the supporters of the company", so the disciplinary dismissal would be justified.
In another case, the TSJ of the Valencian Community considered the dismissal of a waiter who responded badly to two customers to be lawful: one who asked him to clean his cup because it was dirty, he replied that he should clean it, and another He called him "pejiguero and Señorito" and told him that if he didn't like the way the cutlery was "to turn around." The court considers that the employee's conduct "not only constitutes a contemptuous and contemptuous attitude towards them, but also produces serious damage to the image of the company as the events occur in the presence of other bar customers."
The same court, however, sided with the worker in a case in which a waiter was fired, among other reasons, for having received a complaint on a claim sheet for not giving a customer a drink ticket. According to the court, "it can hardly be considered a situation of abuse."
SavingsThere have also been similar cases in the financial sector. The TSJ of Madrid supported the dismissal of a savings bank worker who frequently rebuked customers, insulting them and uttering expressions such as "don't say nonsense and stupid things, sometimes you seem stupid." He was also accused of lack of diligence in the execution of his work when he refused, for example, to provide a new notebook to a client, answering: "Not now, I have a lot of work." In addition, he had breached the duty of confidentiality with the entity's clients, making public data relating to the situation of a client's loans and balances in the middle of a bar.
For all this, the savings bank received various complaints from customers who, in some cases, even threatened to change banks and demanded that someone else serve them. The social court declared the dismissal unfair, but the Madrid TSJ finally agreed with the entity by revealing "a total lack of respect towards the people to whom the worker owes his attention, in the case of repetitive behaviors and previously warned about their incorrectness»

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