Guilty of gross misconduct but dismissal was not inevitable
Published 17 January 2017
Jack accepted that the allegation of gross misconduct made against him was true - and the evidence against him was indisputable.
He had an exemplary disciplinary record and had worked for the West Midlands security firm for just over 10 years.
His boss carried out an unannounced night-time site inspection and found Jack asleep in a chair. The manager used his mobile phone to film Jack sleeping.
He was later invited to attend a disciplinary hearing and provided with a copy of the company’s disciplinary policy, which listed sleeping on duty as an act of gross misconduct.
Jack contacted Castle Associates and met with our representative to discuss the case prior to the disciplinary hearing.
He explained that at the time he was extremely stressed and under considerable pressure at work and in his personal life, and that his Christian faith had given him the strength to carry on.
Jack, a father of five children all under primary school age, had daughter aged four-months at the time and his sleep pattern had been severely disrupted. One of his children was also hospitalised on the day of the night shift.
Jack, the sole breadwinner in his household, was thousands of pounds in debt behind with his utility bills and being chased for payments and threatened with court action. He had also been working extra hours just to make ends meet.
He admitted that he was exhausted and fell asleep while taking time to pray at work.
At the disciplinary hearing our representative presented this mitigation and evidence to support it. This included Jack’s long service and exemplary disciplinary record as well as pointing out that it is not uncommon for people feeling exhausted to fall asleep while praying as the media coverage presented to employer highlighted that a fatigued Pope Francis admitted falling asleep while praying in front of 200,000 people.
Due to the mitigation presented the employer issued Jack with a final warning.
Even when the employer believes there to be gross misconduct, dismissal may not always be within the range of reasonable responses, as mitigating factors may mean that the sanction of dismissal is not in fact reasonable.