20 July, 2015
Does an employer need to suspend a Disciplinary Hearing to deal with the employee's Grievance? No, according to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Jinadu v Docklands Buses.
The Claimant was employed by the Respondent as a bus driver. Following a complaint by a member of the public CCTV footage of the employee's driving was analysed. This depicted numerous failings in the employee's driving, such as clipping kerbs, running a red light and pulling into the path of two cars. During the course of the proceedings the Claimant complained about the conduct of some of the managers involved in the investigations and raised a grievance about them. The disciplinary procedure was not suspended to deal with the grievance and ultimately resulted in her dismissal.
During the Tribunal the Claimant argued (amongst other things) that her dismissal was unfair on the basis that the disciplinary proceedings should have been paused until after the grievance was dealt with. The Employment Appeal Tribunal categorically rejected this argument, with the Judge stating that the Respondents were not obliged to put the disciplinary investigation on hold until they had dealt with the Appellant's grievances. It was also pointed out the managers against whom the Claimant made her grievance were not conducting the disciplinary process.
This decision is clearly good news for employers. It confirms that a decision to continue disciplinary proceedings when a grievance has been raised will not necessarily render a dismissal unfair.
It should be stressed however, that this may not be the position in every instance, and each case should be considered on its own merit.
For example, the grievance may directly relate to disciplinary proceedings in that it states that the managers conducting the hearing have a conflict of interest which prejudices their impartiality. The Judge in Jinadu hinted at this by making the further point that the grievance was not in respect of the disciplining officer. In such a case, it would be wise to postpone the disciplinary procedure and deal with the grievance first.
For further information please contact Jennifer Baines by email or call 01772 220188.