Judge slams employer for failing to carry out adequate investigation

A teenage nursery worker was awarded £10,000 after her employers wrongly accused her of swearing in front of children and dropping a child “face first” on a bus.

The teenager was employed as an early years practitioner but was sacked by the nursery after it received a written complaint from a member of the public following a day trip to the beach.

The complaint alleged that four members of staff were using “profanities” while they were on the bus, returning to the nursery with a group of 12 three-year-old children – while the complainer also alleged a child was dropped “face first”. The employment judge found that the complaint should have been investigated. He said that there was no evidence to support the conclusion that the claimant swore and that the decision to dismiss was substantively and procedurally unfair. He also added that there was no evidence to support the assertion that a child had been dropped “face first”.

The court heard that the four workers were asked to submit versions of the events of the day but were never interviewed or asked any questions about the complaint and none referred to having heard swearing.

Regardless, the nursery worker was suspended and given a date for a disciplinary hearing but did not receive a copy of the statements made in relation to the incident. She was dismissed for gross misconduct, having previously being urged to resign.

The tribunal warded the employee £10,440.

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