08 November 2011 #Employment
General Mills (Berwick) Ltd v Glowacki (2011)
The EAT has found that it was not unfair to dismiss an employee for breach of health & safety procedures, just because it treated another employee in a similar scenario differently.
Mr Glowacki worked as an electrician for General Mills (Berwick) Ltd. When repairing a machine, he disabled certain sensors and entered the body of the machine, contrary to warning notices. His employer subsequently dismissed him for gross misconduct on the grounds that his actions were a serious breach of health & safety procedures.
Mr Glowacki successfully claimed unfair dismissal in the tribunal, as a year before, another employee who had seriously breached health & safety, and suffered a debilitating injury as a result, had not ben dismissed for gross misconduct.
On appeal by the company, the EAT overturned the tribunal decision. The tribunal had failed to take into account the employer`s genuine reason for the different decisions. In the earlier case, the employee had been dismissed on the grounds of incapacity as a consequence of the serious injury he had suffered. Were it not for that employee`s debilitating injury and long term absence from work, he too would have been subject to disciplinary proceedings and dismissed for gross misconduct. The company had therefore established a reason why the two ex-employees were treated differently.