A Sommelier Is Fired for Fulfilling His Job Description


I don’t like to get political in these postings. Frankly, your politics are your business, and my politics are my business.

But at the risk of offending some who may serve within our judicial system, let me just say this about the story I’m about to tell you: I can’t imagine it ever happening this way in the United States, where justice often seems to take a back seat to “other considerations.”

There! End of political commentary. Now, on to the story…

As reported by Drinks Business, a sommelier at a hotel in Amsterdam was fired for — now get this — taking a sip of wine while on the job.

You can read the full story, or trust my summary: The hotel in question has a policy that forbids employees to consume alcohol before or during a shift. The sommelier at the hotel’s Le Rive restaurant accepted a swallow of wine from an appreciative customer following a big catered event at the hotel. A week later, the sommelier — who had worked at the hotel for more than 30 years — received a dismissal notice. He thinks the hotel was looking for a way to get rid of him because of his €2,982 per month salary.

So, the sommelier went to court to get his job back. And after hearing all the evidence, the judge ruled that the “incident” in question was not sufficient grounds for dismissal, and ordered the hotel to pay the sommelier back wages plus a penalty of up to €75,000.

In other words, common sense prevailed.

Think about it: a man whose job it is to manage a restaurant’s wine list, help diners select wines to enjoy with their meals and ensure that each bottle sold is in good shape — i.e., not “corked” or otherwise spoiled — was let go pretty much for doing his job.

When you think about it, a sommelier’s job description could be summarized as “drinking on the job.”

Not to excess, of course, but enough to ensure a positive wine experience for his clientele.

The story did not include the name of the judge who ruled in favor of the sommelier. And that’s too bad, because I’d like to buy that magistrate a magnum of Merlot.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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