Yet another unfair dismissal following a poor investigation

A hospital security officer was unfairly dismissed after lodging a grievance with his employer, a hospital, which went on to fire him ‘in bad faith’, a tribunal has ruled. It found that the dismissal was “outside the range of reasonable responses”after the employer failed to properly investigate issues raised in a collective grievance stating that security officers had lost trust in management.

The concerns were passed on to the HR department, who met with the employee. The officers went on to contact their trade union and raised a collective grievance about their treatment, signed by seven individuals.  The hospital instructed an independent HR consultant to investigate the grievance. He interviewed managers and some of the complainants. After initial meetings, all the individuals withdrew from the grievance, with the claimant the last to do so.

The consultant ruled that the grievance had been made in “bad faith”, citing provisions in the Grievance and dispute policy and Acceptable behaviour at work policy suggesting that where grievances or complaints were found to have been made maliciously or in bad faith this would be treated as potential gross misconduct.

But the judge found that the consultant “had not investigated the grievance, made findings of fact and determined it had been made maliciously or in bad faith”. He had “simply conducted some initial interviews”.

A disciplinary hearing took place and it was found that the action amounted to gross misconduct.

The Judge said the outcome was “outside the range of what was reasonable in terms of investigation, grounds for belief and procedure” and awarded the employee £10,990 for his unfair dismissal.

The case highlights the need for employers to carry out full investigation of difficult situations.

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