Sacked hospital worker wins £9,000 because someone used his cup!

An experienced NHS hospital worker has won an unfair dismissal case after he was dismissed following an altercation with a colleague. The employee confronted his colleague after he discovered liquid left in his cup which he then spilt on himself; an employment tribunal heard.

He was accused of threatening one of his team during an angry exchange sparked by someone using his cup. Despite protesting his innocence, he was sacked for gross misconduct after almost 20 years working for the health service.

The employment tribunal awarded the 43 year old almost £9,000 after ruling that the investigation into his behaviour was flawed. However, the compensation was significantly reduced after a judge found that the claimant had contributed to his dismissal, by his inappropriate behaviour.

The hearing was told that in March 2021, a complaint was made following an incident in which the employee ‘was agitated about someone using a cup belonging to him’. The tribunal heard that while berating him he was told by his colleague he would ‘rip his fucking beard off his fucking face,’ that he knew where he parked his car and that he would ‘get him outside’. When questioned about the incident, the employee said that he was ‘angry and disappointed’ to find that someone had used his cup and left liquid in it which had spilt on him. The tribunal was told a shouting match then ensued.

The employee stated that he and his colleague had been friends and he was willing to apologise to him. However, he denied threatening him said he had been provoked because he wasn’t wearing the correct PPE at the time.

In October 2021 he was found guilty of gross misconduct and fired for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ which had occurred in the in the past towards other colleagues “This type of behaviour was unwelcome, unwarranted and could not be mitigated for.”

The employee’s appeal against the decision was rejected and he proceeded with an unfair dismissal claim. His case was upheld after the tribunal ruled that the disciplinary process had taken too long, wasn’t impartial and had been potentially influenced by previous incidents.

The Employment Judge said: “I have carefully assessed all the evidence in the round. In doing so, I have found there were procedural defects in the process leading to the dismissal.

“I have therefore concluded that these procedural deficiencies had such impact that they rendered the whole process unfair, and that the employer did not act reasonably in dismissing (him).”

The employee was awarded £8956.26 in compensation. However, the judge ruled it should be reduced by 75 per cent to £2,312.50. “This is because of the serious nature of (his) misconduct and the adverse impact of that behaviour on his colleague’s mental health and well-being which I considered was exacerbated by the fact that (he)was employed in a supervisory role”

Another stark reminder that no matter how obvious the facts appear always ensure your process is impartial, objective and thoroughly carried out.

If you have any concerns about this subject or general advice on how to best work to conduct investigations and disciplinaries, contact us at and we can discuss.

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