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Dismissal based on unverified allegations found fair due to risk to the employer’s reputation - Expert Comments

David Reid
17th Aug 2012

The Court of Appeal has held that the dismissal of an employee was fair even though the employer had not followed a formal disciplinary procedure to ‘test’ allegations disclosed to it by police that the employee had committed child sex offences.

 

In reaching its decision, the Court took into account that the employer had questioned police about the credibility of the accusations, rather than accepting them at face value. This was sufficient to conclude that the employer had taken steps to reasonably investigate the matter before dismissal and that any injustice to the employee of not following a disciplinary procedure would be the fault of those who had accused him, not the employer.

 

Importantly, however, the dismissal was found to be fair on the grounds of ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’: had the employer dismissed for misconduct, its failure to follow a disciplinary process may have had rendered the dismissal unfair.

 

We would, however, caution employers against using this case as authority for the proposition that unverified allegations can generally be relied upon to support a dismissal. Each case will turn on its own facts, particularly where ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ dismissals are concerned.

 

The full case can be found here. (Case name: Leach v The Office of Communications (OFCOM) [2012] EWCA Civ 959)

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