Retired tow truck worker fails in WRC action over removing car with child inside

Union representative argues client unfairly ‘singled out and punished’ but adjudicator advises firm and plaintiff to ‘move on’

A retired tow truck worker who demanded compensation for “stress” after being served with a disciplinary sanction for his part in towing away a car with a child inside has been advised to “move on”.

His trade union representative argued his client was unfairly “singled out and punished” because there had been “a few cases” of clamping or towing vehicles where children were later discovered to be inside that had “generated public outcry”.

Other colleagues had gone unpunished, the worker maintained.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) made the recommendation to all the parties to an industrial dispute raised by the former employee of an unidentified “parking services company”. It also recommended records of the disciplinary process and sanction should be taken off the worker’s file.


The worker was served a final written warning in July 2023 in the wake of an incident where that individual and his partner, a tow-truck driver, lifted an illegally parked vehicle and drove away with it — only later discovering that a child had been in the back seat, the WRC was told.

The exact date and location of the incident were redacted from a recommendation published today by the tribunal under the Industrial Relations Act 1969, which was wholly anonymised.

At the time of the warning, the worker was a veteran of more than two decades service with the company, which is involved in clamping illegally parked vehicles as well as towing them.

The worker told the WRC at a hearing in February this year that he did his “required checks” before the vehicle was loaded on to the tow truck and brought away.

It was only after the vehicle was taken away that it was discovered that there was a child in the back seat, the tribunal was told.

A disciplinary process followed between May 25th, 2023 and July 4th that year, when the worker was served with a final written warning which would remain on his personnel file for nine months, the tribunal heard, a sanction upheld when he brought an appeal.

The worker’s trade union rep, Joseph Ateb of Siptu, submitted that his client was “treated unfairly” and “singled out and punished [because] there had been a few cases of clamping and/or towing vehicles where children were later discovered to be inside”.

Mr Ateb added: “These issues had generated a lot of public outcry in the media and on social media spaces and the employer was scrambling to deal with these public outcries.”

It was the worker’s position that he and the driver had been working as a team, but that he had been unfairly “singled out for punishment”. The severity of the sanction was “a reactive response” to “the trial by media”

In her recommendation, WRC adjudicator Christina Ryan concluded that as the warning had expired in April 2024, it was “moot”.

She advised the worker, who retired in February, and his employer to “move on”.