Employee Loses Gross Misconduct Appeal

Following on from my summary last week of what constitutes gross misconduct in the workplace,this recently published case (UD/323/2012) illustrates how gross misconduct dismissals can be fair and reasonable if the sanction is relevant to the specific business objectives of the employer.

The employee concerned was dismissed for flicking through a newspaper whilst providing security services at Dublin Airport and claimed that the sanction of summary dismissal was disproportionate.

The employee was suspended after it was reported he had been observed reading a newspaper whilst looking after baggage bins .He admitted he had done it and the matter progressed to a disciplinary hearing and it was determined that the behavior amounted to a serious breach of security procedure and a dereliction of duty. The Company outlined that something could have been placed in the baggage bins when they were not being properly observed and that American Airlines that they provided services to had a very strict security policy in place. The employee’s appeal was turned down.

The employee claimed that the baggage bins were sealed and could not be tampered with and that staff who worked for other airlines often read newspapers. He also claimed that his colleague had been looking at his mobile phone and had also been reading a newspaper but was not disciplined for it.

The Tribunal determined that taking the specific circumstances into account and the nature of the Company’s business and the specific security services they were contracted to provide the decision to dismiss the employee was reasonable in the circumstances.