Unfair dismissal cases

MBNA Ltd v Jones UKEAT/0120/15

  • Two employees involved in a fight
  • One dismissed for gross misconduct; the other received a final written warning (dif. provocation)
  • Employment Tribunal – disparate treatment was unfair
  • Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) – test is still band of responses for each Claimant regardless of other’s actions/situations
  • Disparate treatment only relevant where circumstances “truly parallel” or where there has been “condonation”
  • No overriding rule
  • Was the dismissal for misconduct fair (s98(4)):
    • was the reason a sufficient reason for dismissal;
    • shall be determined in accordance with equity and the substantial merits of the case

Regard was had for the key cases of Burchell and Iceland Frozen Foods i.e.

British Home Stores Ltd v Burchell [1978] IRLR 379

  • Burchell – a dismissal for misconduct will only be fair if, at the time of dismissal:
    • The employer believed the employee was guilty
    • It had reasonable grounds for believing that guilt
    • At the time that it formed that belief on those grounds, it had carried out as much investigation as was reasonable in the circumstances

Iceland Frozen Foods Ltd v Jones [1982] IRLR 439

  • Following the Burchell Test, look at the decision to dismiss
  • The tribunal will ask whether the employer’s decision to dismiss fell within the range (band) of reasonable responses that a reasonable employer in those circumstances, and in that business, might have adopted

Ramphal v Department for Transport UKEAT/0352/14

  • EAT allowed appeal where the investigating officer’s recommendations had been heavily influenced by Human Resources
  • Investigating officer originally recommended written warning; after comments/amendments by HR – final report recommended gross misconduct
  • The employment judge had failed to apply the decision of the Supreme Court in Chhabra v West London Mental Health NHS Trust [2013] UKSC 80. In particular, HR’s advice should be limited essentially to matters of law and procedure, as opposed to questions of culpability, which are reserved for the investigating officer.