One client of ours summarily dismissed an employee for gross misconduct without notice for sending a colleague an inappropriate and highly offensive email about another colleague. We advised the client to take this action and the former employee made a claim to the employment tribunal for 1 month’s notice pay (they did not have the required 2 years’ continuous service to claim unfair dismissal). Our client instructed us to represent them on this case which went to full hearing.
The judge had to decide whether the former employee’s actions amounted to a fundamental breach of his contract entitling him to no notice pay. The former employee’s contract permitted the employer to summarily dismiss and the employer’s disciplinary and email policy did not permit such offensive emails to be sent.
It is important to highlight in this case that the former employee argued that sending this email was part of the normal banter that went on in the workplace.
The judge found that the former employee did breach their contract of employment. The judge accepted that banter did go on in the workplace but did not accept that the employer had a policy which allowed the email to be sent.
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This case showed the value of having an effective disciplinary and email policy in place. It is therefore important to make sure your policies and procedures are up to date and fit for purpose.