A chef jailed for biting two police officers during a drunken altercation has won a claim for unfair dismissal from the hotel where he worked.
An Employment tribunal has awarded the chef £11,000 after ruling that the employer should have gone to the prison to ask his side of the story before sacking him for gross misconduct.
The incident occurred when police were called to the staff accommodation of a hotel in Guernsey. The chef had been arguing with his girlfriend and was accused of assaulting two members of staff who tried to help. He then assaulted a police officer and a special constable who tried to break up the disturbance. One of the officers suffered a broken finger and the other was bitten on the leg. The chef was subsequently jailed for 18 months for grievous bodily harm.
The employment tribunal ruled that although the employer had good reason to dismiss him, they had failed to follow proper procedure. It noted that the employee had not been formally notified of his dismissal until nearly six months after his arrest. The employer argued that he was convicted of a crime that included multiple accounts of GBH and assault of local police, hotel staff, damage to property, resisting arrest and bringing the company into disrepute.
However, the tribunal concluded that the absence of a disciplinary process with no right of appeal did not fall within the band of reasonable responses open to an employer in justifying the fairness of a summary dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct for a first disciplinary offence.
Katie Ash, Head of Employment Law at Banner Jones Solicitors comments “However much the justification for the dismissal of an employee may seem to be an “open and shut case”, there are no circumstances when due and proper process can be discarded”.
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