Seen not to be biased
04 May 2011
The EAT has confirmed that for a grievance process to be fair, it should not only be free from actual bias, but also from any apparent bias.
In Watson v University of Strathclyde (2011), Ms Watson had raised a grievance about a colleague, Mr Taylor. She then raised concerns that the subsequent grievance investigation was tainted by a conflict of interest, as this was conducted by a Dr West, who in the past had been publicly supportive of Mr Taylor. The subsequent grievance appeal panel (which also included Dr West), rejected Ms Watson`s appeal and concluded there was no conflict of interest. Ms Watson resigned & claimed constructive dismissal.
The EAT confirmed that any reasonable employer must have regard to an employee`s concerns of bias. For a fair grievance process, it must be free from not only actual bias but also any perceived bias. Accordingly, the EAT upheld Ms Watson`s appeal and held that she had been unfairly dismissed.
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