A Christian Louboutin brand ambassador has failed in his unfair dismissal action against a leading fashion retail firm here arising from a dispute sparked by his sale of Louboutin lipstick to a loyal customer.
It follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator John Harraghy ruling that the action of luxury retail firm, Puig UK Ltd in dismissing Zheng Guo for gross misconduct was within the range of reasonable responses open to it.
Mr Harraghy also ruled that substantial grounds existed to justify Mr Guo's dismissal on 15 November 2018.
Mr Guo worked for Puig at an unnamed major department store here and told the WRC hearing that most of Puig's customers here were Chinese and Chinese tourists.
He stated that this contributed to approximately 80% of the company’s performance in Ireland.
Puig is a third generation family owned fashion and fragrance business headquartered in Barcelona and last year recorded sales of €1.53bn globally.
The brands it sells include Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten, Christian Louboutin, Antonio Banderas, Shakira and Benetton.
In his ruling, Mr Harraghy stated that the allegations against Mr Guo were very serious and would have important implications for both Puig and Mr Guo.
Mr Guo commenced work with Puig as a 'Loubi’ ambassador in May 2017 and was paid €2,376 gross per month.
Puig alleged that Mr Guo breached a company policy of selling more than six units of Christian Louboutin lipstick on 4 October 2018 to a single customer in one transaction when he sold 30 units to this customer.
At the investigation meeting concerning the Louboutin lipstick, Puig stated that Mr Guo was also asked to separately explain an envelope of €2,000 he was given by a customer.
Puig stated that Mr Guo could not remember this initially but later recalled that he purchased a Macmillan Parka Jacket worth €850 using the contents of that envelope.
Puig claimed that Mr Guo's actions amounted to gross misconduct and as a result all trust and confidence was destroyed thus rendering the continuation of the employment relationship impossible.
Puig also stated that at the time of the lipstick incident Mr Guo was on a formal written warning for failing to follow the correct sales procedures for discounts for staff and customers.
In evidence at the WRC, Mr Guo did not accept that he was involved in anything illegal.
Mr Guo submitted that most staff used a process of splitting transactions to overcome the six-unit policy.
He stated that he was one of the Puig's best sales assistants at the major department store and that he faced sales pressures every day as the brand was a high-end luxury product.
Mr Guo outlined that he was concerned about his reputation in view of the allegations which led to his dismissal.
He told the WRC hearing that he wants to have his good name and reputation restored.