Yes it can held the EAT in Khan V Stripestar Ltd. The claimant was employed by the respondent to run its car workshop. The details are not important, but involved him buying a customer’s car but then carrying out works on the car under that customer’s name. Such action, if proven, would almost certainly be considered gross misconduct and warrant summary dismissal – i.e. dismissal without warning and without notice.
The employer held a disciplinary hearing. However, the hearing only lasted six minutes and the claimant was not given an opportunity to make any representations. It would appear that the employer had decided the outcome and did not give the employee a fair hearing – an opportunity to prove his innocence. Dismissal in those circumstances would be unfair.
In this case, an independent manager was appointed. He conducted a thorough investigation and interviewed all of the witnesses. Evidently he also considered that the claimant should have been dismissed.
So, however certain you are that an employee is guilty of gross misconduct, you should adhere to a fair disciplinary process. That would probably have saved the employer a fair amount of time, stress and money defend-ed the tribunal proceedings.
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