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Case law: Employer’s failure to offer employee an appeal following disciplinary hearing makes dismissal unfair

Employers should ensure that where a disciplinary hearing leads to a finding against an employee, an appeal is always offered – otherwise they risk a legal claim, a ruling has clarified.

May 2019

This update was published in Legal Alert - May 2019

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A managing director employed by a financial services company brought two claims against his employer in the Employment Tribunal (ET). In one claim, the ET said his evidence was not credible and that he was evasive. His employer suspended him and started disciplinary proceedings. It did not investigate the circumstances first, relying instead on the ET’s findings, although it allowed the employee to comment on the findings at the disciplinary hearing.

As a result of the disciplinary hearing, the employee was dismissed for gross misconduct on grounds that as a regulated person under financial services rules, the ET’s comments about his credibility meant he could no longer be employed. He was not offered an internal appeal.

He claimed unfair dismissal on grounds there had been no investigation or appeal. He made the point that his employer’s disciplinary procedures and the Acas best practice required both in any disciplinary proceedings.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that relying on the ET’s findings instead of carrying out an investigation did not make his dismissal unfair. That was not the best approach but it was within the range of reasonable responses to the situation.

However, the failure to offer him an appeal did make the dismissal unfair. It was ‘wholly irregular’ and ‘contrary to best practice, contrary to the Respondent’s own procedure and contrary to the Acas Code of Practice’ not to offer him an appeal.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers should ensure that where a disciplinary hearing leads to a finding against an employee, an appeal is always offered; and, in most cases, best practice is to carry out an investigation before deciding to go ahead with a disciplinary hearing.

Case ref: Radia v Jeffries International Limited UKEAT/0123/18/JOJ

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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