University ‘entitled’ to begin disciplinary procedure against lecturer
The Court of Appeal has ruled that a university was not negligent when it commenced disciplinary proceedings against a senior lecturer.
The lecturer had written an employment reference for another employee who had gone on to find employment at another university.
The employee didn’t perform as well in his new job as the employment reference suggested he might and the new employers informed the university of the discrepancy.
The university began an investigation and found that the lecturer had written three drafts of the reference that all contained similar inaccuracies. The lecturer said that it was the employee who had written the inaccurate references and that she had written a different one.
However, she was unable to provide a copy or proof that she had written a reference herself. The university began disciplinary proceedings and the lecturer was eventually signed off work with sickness. An independent assessor later dismissed the allegations against the lecturer.
The lecturer then took legal action against the university, claiming it had caused her psychiatric injury. The court ruled that the university should have made further enquiries before commencing disciplinary proceedings.
The university appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal ruled that the judge had been wrong to find that the university had breached its duty. It was not an unreasonable course of action to begin disciplinary proceedings in the circumstances. Based on the evidence available, the lecturer had a case to answer.
Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law