Consistency of treatment central to a fair disciplinary process
In Doy v Clays, Doy was accused of threatening behaviour towards his managers following a work-related dispute. These threats led to one of the managers moving his family out of their home. Following a disciplinary hearing, Doy was dismissed for gross misconduct and brought a claim for unfair dismissal, alleging that there had been disparity of treatment. Doy said that other employees had made much worse comments than his, and claimed physical violence had taken place between colleagues. The tribunal found that the misconduct dismissal was within the band of reasonable responses
On Appeal the EAT found that the Tribunal had however failed to consider Doy’s disparity argument. ‘Equity’ in the test of reasonableness also requires consideration of sanctions that have been imposed on other employees in similar circumstances to ensure that the employer acts consistently. Although the employer doesn’t need to come to the same conclusion reached in previous cases, even when the allegations are the same or very similar, the key is to show that this has been properly considered and appropriate weight attributed. The Employment Appeal Tribunal therefore decided that the case must be remitted for a fresh hearing.