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18th Apr 2024

Sainsbury’s worker sacked after 20 years for taking bags without paying on self checkout

Ryan Price

They fired him for gross misconduct.

A Sainsbury’s employee who worked for the supermarket chain for the majority of his life was sacked for taking a couple of carrier bags from the checkout without paying.

Niamke Doffou worked as a night shift assistant at the Romford branch of Sainsbury’s in East London from June 2003 until he was fired in October 2022.

During a weekend in August 2022, Doffou was bagging up his £30 shop at the end of his night shift when he decided to be a little bit cheeky and press the “no bags used” option on the self-service screen. Little did he know that the following month his boss would pull up some CCTV footage from the incident and dismiss him for gross misconduct.

Considering Doffou had given 20 years of service to the company, the fact that he was getting sacked for nicking a couple of 30p bags seems a bit harsh to say the least.

At the employment tribunal hearing where Doffou appealed the decision, he claimed that he was ‘tired’ and ‘unaware of what he was doing’, and acknowledged that he was aware that the company had a zero tolerance approach to theft.

The tribunal was told that Mr Doffou 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.

Retailers have to obey strict government rules when it comes to the sale of shopping bags. A company can be fined up to £200 for not charging customers for bags, and are required to keep records of the number of bags they have in stock and how many get sold.

Not keeping records, and not supplying records to inspectors can result in a fine of £100.

Ruling over the case, 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.”

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