The importance of a fair disciplinary procedure when dismissing on the grounds of misconduct

It is vital that an employer follows a fair disciplinary procedure before deciding to  dismiss an employee on the grounds of misconduct (where they have at least 2 years’ service). Any failure to do so will leave it exposed to an unfair dismissal claim. In a recent case before the Employment Tribunal in Scotland, South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Trust illustrated how not to approach a disciplinary investigation. It’s actions resulted in an £800,000 payout to a former employee.

As well as unfair dismissal, the claimant in this case also successfully claimed disability discrimination and wrongful dismissal, but when it came to unfair dismissal, the Employment Tribunal found that the decision to dismiss the claimant was based on obvious inconsistencies, errors and incorrect assumptions which no reasonable employer would have made. For example, it was found that there had been a failure to interview two key witnesses, which resulted in the disciplinary report containing “serious misrepresentations” of the claimant’s actions. It was also found that the employee appointed as fact finder as part of the process went “well beyond” her remit of fact finding, and strayed into interpretating facts and recording her own opinions as fact.

This is a useful reminder of the importance of carrying out a fair and thorough investigation when it comes to allegations of misconduct. Employers should ensure they have robust procedures in place and that staff are properly trained as to what needs to take place.

The full case report can be found here.

If you would like any advice on matters contained in this note, or in relation to employment law generally, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment team.

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