“Simples!!” Or is it?
Businesses of any size must tread carefully when dealing with misconduct. It is essential for employers in misconduct situations to Follow the relevant procedures
Take all the relevant information and legal requirements into account
- Act as a reasonable employer
When a company makes a decision on a disciplinary it needs to ensure that:
- A thorough investigation has taken place in relation to the allegations
- The relevant punishment – such as dismissal – is received by all employees involved
Matthew from Consensus HR explains: “I know that this can be hard for employers who do not have the manpower to carry out correct procedures. In these cases, they should seek the relevant support needed.”
An incident at London Zoo’s Christmas party, reported by Mail Online, illustrates this issue…
A meerkat handler was dismissed for glassing a zoo colleague during Christmas party catfight over a llama keeper. The victim needed stitches in her face as a result of the attack.
The meerkat handler was subsequently sacked. But she launched an employment tribunal against the zoo for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, claiming she had ADHD and dyspraxia – a condition which made her exceptionally clumsy.
London Employment Tribunal, headed by Judge Hilary Norris, found that she was not a victim of disability discrimination.
But the panel ruled that she was wrongly dismissed because both women should have been fired. The two workers were found guilty of the same thing at their disciplinary hearings, the hearing heard.
The panel also criticised the zoo’s disciplinary process for failing to take into account all the evidence.
Despite also being involved in the violence, the victim of the glassing was only given a final written warning and banned from attending company social events.
The tribunal found that the company differentiated between the two women solely due to the difference in physical injuries sustained. The action taken did not take into account impartial witnesses’ accounts that stated that both women had instigated the fight at different times.
In their judgement, the tribunal panel wrote: ‘We conclude that no reasonable employer would have reached the decision that the entire responsibility for the incident should be placed at the Claimant’s door and that [the other woman] was not blameworthy.’
The Tribunal concluded: ‘Both women were accused and found guilty of the same conduct, but ultimately one was dismissed and the other given a two year final written warning.
‘In all the circumstances, we find that it was not within the band of reasonable responses, open to a reasonable employer, to dismiss the Claimant in circumstances where it did not also dismiss [the other woman].’
Despite finding in her favour, the panel refused to award the Claimant any compensation because both of the women should have been sacked.
This story illustrates how important it is to manage disciplinary situations carefully and correctly, taking professional advice as needed.