19 Mar 2019

Beattie v Condorrat War Memorial and Social Club and others [2019] UKEAT/0019/17

Facts

Mrs Beattie was a bar steward. She received a final written warning following a loss of 26 bottles of spirits, which she could not explain. The warning lasted for 12 months. She accepted part responsibility and offered to repay part of the cost. While the warning was still live, she refused to sell tickets for a function in order to avoid any allegations against her if any of the money went missing. She was dismissed and brought an unfair dismissal claim. The ET held that she had been unfairly dismissed since the correct procedure had not been followed (no disciplinary hearing had been held) but reduced her compensatory award to nil on the basis that there was a 100% chance that she would have been dismissed anyway. Mrs Beattie appealed and challenged the final written warning on the basis that she had carried out the investigation into the loss of stock and her employer had not investigated it separately.

Decision

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ET's decision. It had taken the correct approach since the general rule was that earlier decisions should not be reopened and the ET had considered whether there was a case for issuing the final written warning. As it was fair to rely on this warning, the 100% reduction was appropriate.

Comment

This case is a reminder for employers to ensure that allegations are investigated thoroughly, particularly where dismissal is a possibility, and a disciplinary hearing should always be held. It is also helpful to be reminded that an employee's conduct will be taken into account and can reduce an award to zero.