When an employee of a grocery store is found outside of the shopping area, in the possession of some goods for which he cannot proof that he has purchased them, this may result in a breach of trust with the employer, even if these goods are of small value. These principles have been confirmed in a court-decision of the Brussels Labour Court of 10 February 2017.
In 2013 a sales employee of a grocery store was dismissed for serious cause because he could not proof having paid for a brioche and two muffins which were in his possession when he was outside of the shopping area. These delicacies had a total value of 1,79 EUR.
The case ends up before the Brussels Labour Court. In its decision, the Court focusses on the fact that the relationship of trust is one of the fundamentals of any employment relationship.
When an employee of a shop cannot proof having purchased goods which were found in his possession, this may indeed cause a breach of trust. Once the breach of trust has been established, it is of no importance that the goods were of low value or that the employee offered to pay for them.
In the appreciation of the legitimacy of a dismissal for serious cause, the relationship of trust between the parties is essential. The Court reminds us that when an employee cannot proof having purchased some goods which he has in his possession outside of the shopping-area, such a behaviour can qualify as a serious shortcoming causing a breach of trust, even when the goods are of low value. Such facts may thus justify a dismissal for serious cause.
Source C. Trav. Bruxelles (3ème Ch.), 10 février 2017, J.T.T., p. 190-191.