26 June 2015: Procedure and Disciplinary hearings:
In Adeshina v St George’s University Hospitals, the EAT decided that neither procedural flaws in the disciplinary hearing, nor breach of the ACAS Code regarding the appeal panel, resulted in Ms Adeshina’s dismissal being unfair.
The fairness of the decision depends on whether it was both substantively and procedurally fair, which includes compliance with the ACAS code. In the claim of Ms Adeshina, there were a number of procedural failings as part of the disciplinary process, including the decision being partially based on matters which had not been put to Ms Adeshina during the process.
The appeal against dismissal was heard by a panel of three senior managers. Ms Adeshina objected to one panel member who had been involved in an operational policy document which was part of the case against Ms Adeshina and who was also a mentor to the victim of one of Ms Adeshina’s alleged acts of misconduct. Another member of the panel was more junior than her own manager. The appeal took the form of a complete rehearing and upheld the decision to dismiss.
The EAT held that the appeal panel was capable of rectifying procedural problems in the original decision. Although serious, the flaws had been remedied. The tribunal could consider the process in the round and conclude that it was fair.
There were not sufficient grounds to say the appeal panel was biased. Prior dealings with an employee, without something more which suggested bias, could not render the dismissal unfair. The EAT endorsed the ACAS advice that the person hearing an appeal should be senior to the original decision taker, but there was an appeal panel of three, not just one appeal officer.
This case will be of comfort to employers that procedural defects in the original decision to dismiss can be rectified on appeal, especially if there is a complete rehearing of the issues. It’s worth noting that even with procedurally unfair dismissals, awards can be reduced by up to 100% due to the employees own contribution to dismissal.
Call us today to speak to one our employment solicitors for advice on the procedure for disciplinary hearings and unfair dismissal. See our other posts on our website.