A Mug’s Game
30 August 2017
Reed v CF Fertilisers
The employee in this case, Mr Reed, had brought a mug into work for a colleague. Mr Reed had added some offensive graffiti to the mug which he claimed was a reference to the colleague’s ex-girlfriend. The mug was spotted by a female member of staff who believed that the graffiti was in relation to her and she subsequently made a formal complaint.
The Company launched an investigation and Mr Reed admitted that it was he who had brought in the mug. He asserted his defence that it was simply a reference to his friend’s ex-girlfriend and that he meant no offence to anyone within the Company. Mr Reed acknowledged that the language was inappropriate and was apologetic for his actions.
Nevertheless, the Company took a dim view and Mr Reed was dismissed for gross misconduct. He failed in his internal appeal and subsequently brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The tribunal took account of the fact that the firm had a comprehensive equal opportunities policy which each member of staff had been trained on and that the policy was clear in its zero tolerance of such offensive material. Mr Reed’s claim for unfair dismissal was therefore dismissed.
This decision acts as a reminder that sound policies, coupled with a proper disciplinary procedure, are essential when it comes to defending unfair dismissal claims. Had the policy or the procedure been deficient, it is likely that the outcome of this case would have been different.
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