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Employer not thorough enough when dismissing employee

Posted: 12th November 2013   In: Individual Employment

Employers need to show they have been fair and that they have investigated all the issues thoroughly when dismissing an employee for alleged misconduct.

Failure to do so could result in the dismissal being ruled unfair, as illustrated in a recent case involving a bookmakers and one of its cashiers.

The cashier was accused of irregularities involving four different bets placed by different customers. One of the bets was too late to be taken but she took it anyway. The computerised system treated the bet as void and the stake should have been returned to the customer.

The system recorded the stake being returned at 5.28 pm. However, the CCTV footage for that time didn’t show a customer at the counter. This led to an accusation that the cashier had kept the stake for herself.

The cashier said the customer may have asked her to keep the stake so he could use it on another bet. The employer didn’t believe her as the CCTV showed the customer paying to place another bet shortly after the void bet. He would not have had to pay if the cashier still had his stake money as she claimed.

The cashier was dismissed but she still protested her innocence.

The case was eventually heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, with the thoroughness of the employer’s investigation of the alleged misconduct becoming the main issue.

It emerged that the timings on the computerised system registering bets was not synchronised with the CCTV. This seriously devalued the company’s evidence.

The tribunal said that in cases involving alleged criminal behaviour, the employer should consider evidence that backs up an employee’s case as well as evidence that incriminates.

In this case, the employer should have checked the CCTV for the whole day, not just the moments around when the alleged incidents occurred. The failure to do so meant the dismissal was unfair.

The case illustrates the high standards required of employers when dealing with dismissal of staff, especially when it involves allegations of misconduct and criminality.

Please contact Robert Bedford or John Carter if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.