13 June 2014 #Employment
If a manager conducts further investigations and interviews after a disciplinary meeting, but doesn’t then revert to the employee before deciding to dismiss, that may make the dismissal unfair (Yeung v Capstone Care Ltd  UKEAT/0161/13).
In Yeung v Capstone Care, the claimant had worked as a carer at a home for vulnerable adults. Her colleagues alleged that she had verbally and physically abused some of the residents and she was suspended and invited to a disciplinary meeting, which she failed to attend. The disciplinary manager dismissed the claimant in her absence and the claimant appealed. At her appeal hearing, the claimant raised a number of new matters which the appeal manager investigated further by re-interviewing witnesses. On being re-interviewed, the witnesses corroborated their earlier evidence and also gave some new evidence, but the appeal manager did not put this new evidence to the claimant before upholding her dismissal.
The EAT confirmed that a manager’s failure to put new evidence to an employee before dismissing or upholding a dismissal could make a dismissal procedurally unfair. However, it did not have that effect in this case because the manager had already reasonably concluded, prior to conducting the further investigation, that the claimant was guilty of the misconduct, based on the witnesses’ evidence. His further investigation simply corroborated that evidence. The manager’s failure to tell the claimant that there was yet more evidence to condemn her did not amount to a breach of natural justice making the dismissal procedurally unfair.
This case also alluded to the well-established principle that, where employees are accused of misconduct amounting to criminal misbehaviour, the employer must conduct a particularly careful investigation (A v B  IRLR 405). That’s because the consequences of a serious allegation being held may not be simply that an employee would lose their job, but also their reputation and possibly the prospect of securing future employment in their chosen field.