Employment Tribunal awards tanker driver £23,000

A tanker driver who accidentally spilled fuel over a forecourt has been awarded almost £23,000, along with his job back in a recent employment tribunal.

On a dark and windy night in 2015, the driver and began the usual checks required to deliver fuel at a retail forecourt. An alarm sounded shortly after he started the process. He investigated the alarm and discovered a blockage in a delivery hose but managed to continue the delivery. The alarm sounded again and again he checked but found no issue, so completed the delivery.  However he then realised that he had misread one of the checks and simultaneously, an employee at the forecourt told him that he had spilt fuel onto the forecourt.  The fire brigade were called but did not take action other than to inspect the scene, spread sand and ensure that the clean-up had been satisfactorily dealt with.

The tanker driver attended a disciplinary hearing on 17 December, where it was alleged that his actions had brought the company into “disrepute”. He was dismissed with notice.  He appealed unsuccessfully against his dismissal, and tribunal proceedings began in 2018.

Court documents showed that there was a possible sensor fault in the tank in question. However, the driver had not been informed of this before the delivery.

Although the tribunal regarded the driver’s conduct as “culpable or blameworthy”, it decided his dismissal was “substantively unfair as he would not have been dismissed by a reasonable employer for the misreading of the ullage”.

The employment judge ruled that the driver was unfairly dismissed and ordered his reinstatement. The tribunal also awarded him £22,805.18 in loss of earnings, loss of pensions and expenses while looking for alternative employment.

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