Dismissal on evidence from anonymous witness ‘not unreasonable'
The dismissal of a carpenter for allegedly making homophobic remarks was not unreasonable even though the evidence against him was from an ‘anonymous witness’.
That was the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a case involving the housing association Tai Tarian and one of its employees, Howell Wyn Christie.
Mr Christie had worked for the association for 14 years. He was dismissed after a tenant alleged that he had made homophobic remarks to her. The tenant was interviewed by two of the association’s managers as part of the investigation.
However, the tenant requested anonymity because she suffered from anxiety and was not interviewed by the senior managers who made the decision that Christie should be dismissed.
He brought a claim of unfair dismissal and the Employment Tribunal found in his favour. It held that it was outside the range of reasonable responses for the association to make such a decision on the evidence of an anonymous witness and to fail to take the necessary steps to ensure that Christie had a fair hearing.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has overturned that decision. It held that the tribunal had not shown a valid reason for concluding that the anonymous tenant’s evidence should not be accepted, given that she had been interviewed by two association managers.
The case was remitted to a different tribunal for a complete rehearing.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.