Denied the right to a fair disciplinary hearing
Published 17 April 2019
Going out for a meal with colleagues with some alcohol added to the mix can be a recipe for disaster and so it proved for Ronald.
The festive celebrations fell flat for the delivery driver when he was dismissed for what was said to be a foul-mouthed tirade directed at the boss’s daughter during the company’s Christmas party.
Ronald and a workmate were fired on the spot and ordered not to return to work in the New Year. Both men were bundled into a taxi and sent home by concerned fellow employees.
Regardless of the allegations an employer should not take disciplinary action before holding a meeting with an employee to discuss the problem. A disciplinary investigation to establish the facts is a crucial part of a fair process.
Ronald later received a letter confirming his dismissal. He was sacked for gross misconduct as a result of bringing the company into disrepute. The letter did not notify him he could appeal against the decision.
Employers should conduct a fair and reasonable disciplinary process, which largely adheres to the ACAS Code of Practice, before dismissing an employee. Employees have the right to appeal against any formal disciplinary sanction or a decision to dismiss.
Devastated Ronald decided he would challenge the decision. He contacted the Peterborough-based company to protest his innocence, pointed out he was entitled to a disciplinary hearing or at least an appeal hearing.
However, the company maintained that the decision was fair and he did not have the right to appeal.
Ronald, who had worked for the company for four years, felt aggrieved and contacted Castle Associates for advice. Our representatives are experts in dealing with challenging and unreasonable employers, but it was rare to come across a case where an employee had been sacked without having a disciplinary hearing.
Our representative contacted the company on Ronald’s behalf and it agreed to hold a disciplinary appeal hearing. Ronald was then sent witness statements - taken over a month after the incident.
An employee facing disciplinary action and the threat of dismissal has the right to know the case against them prior to a decision being taken.
The allegation was that Ronald and a colleague were drunk and when asked to calm down by the daughter of his boss, he subjected her to a barrage of foul and abusive language. It was claimed he also threatened to knock out her dad if he had anything to say.
Restaurant staff who attempted to intervene were allegedly sworn at and also threatened. The restaurant manager was said to be so disgusted that he banned the company from holding future functions at the venue.
Ronald denied the allegation. He did admit having a couple of drinks but claimed he was not drunk and could remember a lot of what occurred. He stated it was his colleague who was responsible and that while he swore in attempting to calm his mate down, he was not abusive or threatening towards anyone.
The witness statements did not support the allegation and they were inconsistent and contradictory. The boss’s daughter did not provide a statement and neither did the restaurant staff or manager.
Our representative highlighted that none of the witnesses actually said Ronald was responsible. One witness did say that Ronald swore a couple of times, but that it was directly at his colleague as he was trying to play peacemaker.
At the appeal hearing our representative highlighted a number of factors including the unfairness of the decision to dismiss Ronald without following a fair procedure, the witnesses never said he was to blame for what happened and the fact he was trying to diffuse the situation.
Ronald’s appeal was successful and he was given an informal reprimand and reinstated. He described the help provided by Caste Associates as invaluable.
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For free employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 0333 772 0611