Convicted of Assault but Unfairly Dismissed

16 December 2015

This case features two London Zoo employees at their Christmas party, where one of the them was dating the ex-boyfriend of the other. The resultant tribunal is a good example of how Christmas parties and workplace relationships can both turn sour!

One of the employees, W, overheard the other employee, S, talking about her in the toilets at the venue. An altercation swiftly followed, which led to W physically attacking S. In response, S decided to spit at W before proceeding to dangle her over a balcony with a 30 foot drop to the ground. W’s reaction was to smack W in the face with a glass, which required hospital attention.

Upon returning to work, both employees were found guilty of misconduct. Despite being found guilty of the same offence, W was dismissed and S was given a final warning. As a result, W brought a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

The tribunal agreed that the dismissal was unfair. The employer had acted inconsistently by applying different sanctions. However, the compensatory award to W was ‘nil’. This is because, had the employer acted fairly, they would both have been dismissed and W would be in exactly the same position. To compound her misery further, W was subsequently convicted of assault in separate criminal proceedings.

This is a very good example of the care which should be taken in disciplinary proceedings. Although there was no compensation awarded in this case, the fact that the dismissal was found to be unfair is illustrative of the way tribunals will approach these cases. At Alpha, we are specialists at providing expert advice on how to conduct disciplinary processes. If you would like to have Alpha on your side, please feel free to contact us.


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