Charles Fussell & Co LLP was instructed in April 2012 by an English company (the "Company") in respect of a claim brought by an ex-employee for unfair dismissal.
Charles Fussell & Co LLP had previously been instructed by the Company in order to advise on the investigatory and disciplinary process for gross misconduct. The Company, having followed that advice, came to the conclusion in October 2011 that the employee should be dismissed on the basis of his gross misconduct, which fell under the following four heads:
- procuring and disseminating confidential information about other employees during the course of his employment;
- refusing direct orders from senior management;
- leaving his place of work without explanation, notice or authorisation; and
- failing to attend work without explanation, notice or authorisation.
The employee's case was as follows:
- He admitted disseminating confidential information, but justified the same on the basis that he had thought that the person to whom he had given the information would already have known about it. He claimed that he could not remember how he had obtained the information.
- He admitted refusing an order from senior management, but claimed that he had done so on the basis that the order was unreasonable and would have resulted in him missing an appointment with his daughter that evening.
- He admitted leaving his place of work without explanation, notice or authorisation, but justified the same on the basis that he had had an altercation with senior management during the course of which he claimed that senior management had sworn at him; and
- He admitted failing to attend work without explanation, notice or authorisation, but justified the same on the basis that the altercation with senior management had given rise to serious depression, such that he had been unable to notify the Company of his absence. He pointed out that he had later self-authorised his absence and had also provided medical evidence in support of his claim.
The employee claimed that the Company had failed to take into account his medical evidence, had tried to make it impossible for him to return to work, and had predetermined the outcome of the disciplinary process.
When hearing the case in May 2012, the Employment Judge dismissed the case in its entirety and noted that the Company had made all possible efforts to ensure that the investigation into the employee's conduct was fair. Specifically, he noted that the Company had taken legal advice which had been followed, and had held two disciplinary meetings and two appeal meetings in order to reach its decision. In conclusion, the Judge found that the Company had acted very fairly in its dealings with the employee.
Judge Warren allowed the Company 28 days to apply for its costs in the matter.