Case law updates

“Mind made up” investigation leads to successful UD claim.

An ET has ruled that a hairdresser and beauty therapist was unfairly dismissed after her employer failed to substantiate complaints about her behaviour and went into an investigation having already made their mind up about the outcome.

Notwithstanding evidence that Mrs Lovelady’s behaviour was “offensive” and “inappropriate”, including with customers, the Tribunal did not believe a “reasonably thorough and fair investigation” had been carried out into the issue, with evidence consisting of “hearsay and opinion”.

Although Mrs Loveday’s employer conducted an investigation with staff and selected customers the contents of the meetings were not recorded, no statements were taken and the allegations put to Lovelady did not include dates or sufficient detail. The evidence was therefore deemed to have been largely “hearsay and opinion”.

The owner’s role as the investigating officer, dismissing officer and later the appeals officer was also noted to have risked the process being unfair.

The ET therefore ruled the dismissal was unfair, but noted that the claimant’s behaviour at work left her at risk of fair dismissal and reduced her compensation as a result.