Employers who do not have robust procedures in place for investigating incidents of alleged staff misconduct frequently pay a heavy price. That was certainly so in one case in which
The woman was alleged to have taken a bottle of soft drink from the shop and drunk it without paying for it. When confronted with the accusation, she took the view that it had been maliciously made by a colleague whose performance she had criticised. Following a disciplinary procedure, however, she was sacked for gross misconduct.
In ruling that her dismissal was both unlawful and unfair, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that the employer’s investigation of the allegation had been fundamentally flawed. Amongst other things, till rolls had not been examined and potentially important witnesses had not been interviewed. The woman had an unblemished record and there was no reason to believe that she had been dishonest.
The ET acknowledged that there had been some fault on the woman’s part in that she had not been able to recall or explain the circumstances in which she had taken the drink. She had, however, explained that she had been working 55 hours per week and was frankly exhausted at the time. She was awarded £20,930 in damages and the employer was ordered to contribute £2,000 towards her legal costs.