Posts Tagged ‘gross misconduct’

Sharon Shoesmith was dismissed by Haringey Council as its director of childrens’ services after the death of Baby P for gross misconduct and without the right to a disciplinary process as required by UK employment law. In other words, she was not given the chance to defend herself and therefore the tax payer will be shelling out a shilling. It stands as a stark reminder to employers everywhere that however wrong you may think an employee is, they do not forfeit their right to a fair hearing.

In its defence her employer, Haringey Council, said it was under pressure from the Secretary of State Ed Balls to fire her.

The Court of Appeal has rejected Shoesmith’s appeal in relation to OFSTED but upheld it against the Secretary of State for Education and Haringey Council. The judge said the dismissal was unreasonable: “she was entitled to be treated lawfully and fairly and not simply and summarily scapegoated”.

Despite the tragic events which led up to this case, every employee is entitled to the right to reply when their job is on the line. Ed Balls was either lashing out, attempting to save his own skin or buckling under pressure. I don’t know which it was but in any case it was wrong. Crikey, even TV audiences have the right to reply and  if the government thinks itself above the law,  it is in the wrong country. Thank goodness!

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A station master has been sacked for risking his life to save others. UK employment law and Health and Safety regulations often go hand in hand for many employers especially if they operate in high risk industries, such as railway travel. In this case, South West Trains say they have taken the decision to sack popular station master, Faletto, on grounds of gross misconduct after he went onto the track to remove a shopping trolley which may have been capable of causing a serious accident.

The problem is that from an employment law and health ans safety perspective, Faletto had to contravene safety regulations to do so and this led to the accusation of gross misconduct. Mr. Faletto says he took action in an emergency situation and that in such circumstances the employer’s safety regulations allowed such an intervention. The case is likely to centre around employment law principles such as whether it was reasonable for the employee to take the action he did in the circumstances, and was it reasonable for the employer to find him guilty of gross misconduct, and if so, was it reasonable to sack him for the offence or were mitigating factors such as length of service, unblemished record, contingent circumstances (Mr. Faletto believed his request to turn off the power had been actioned) and so forth, capable of reducing the penalty to a disciplinary warning?

If the matter goes to court the tribunal will be the arbiter of these questions. The country will await the outcome of the tribunal’s decision which is likely to have an impact on other employment law dismissal cases where contravention of safety regulations are involved in extreme circumstances.

Ian Faletto has been praised for his customer service and has won many awards in decades of service for South West Trains who are standing by their decision and dismissed his appeal. The public are coming out in support for Mr. Faletto in their droves and petitions, PR and BBC coverage will all serve to put pressure on South West Trains whose journey through the employment law tribunal will not necessarily be an easy one!

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Ex-Burger King employee gets to 5 years in prison – Florida AP – MiamiHerald.com. I know it’s American news but it could happen here!

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