Royal Mail employee unfairly dismissed after storing ‘obscene material’
A Royal Mail employee was unfairly dismissed after he stored ‘obscene material’ on his online work account.
That was the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which ruled that Royal Mail’s internal appeals policy shouldn’t have allowed such a severe penalty.
The case involved operational support manager Mr P Chokski. He was dismissed for sharing the password to his cloud storage and for allegedly storing pornography.
Mr Chokski said that the files were not his. He also claimed that it had become common practice for employees to share passwords, as it helped them work more efficiently.
He was suspended from work while the internal investigation took place.
Royal Mail’s investigation included a technical report that said: “It was not possible to identify when the offending files had been placed there, by whom and who had accessed them.”
However, it was decided that Mr Chokski was responsible for downloading the files to his account.
The head of the internal investigation said that Mr Chokski sharing his password was not a serious enough offence in itself, but when combined with the pornographic material found on his account, it became grounds for dismissal.
Mr Chokski appealed the decision internally, but Royal Mail then decided that sharing the password was enough on its own to provide grounds for dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal ruled that Mr Chokski was not unfairly dismissed even though there was “not an appropriate or sufficient investigation into the issue of how the files came to be in his cloud account”. It held that his dismissal was a reasonable response to the fact he had shared his password.
That decision was overturned at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which ruled that sharing a password was not enough of an offence on its own to have justified dismissal.
The judge said that the tribunal had not given enough consideration to whether a dismissal on the grounds of sharing a password was reasonable.
Mr Chokski was awarded £53,142 for unfair dismissal.
Please contact Sorcha Monaghan for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.