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Disciplinary Hearings and Grievances

Janadu v Docklands Buses

A common problem for employers is what to do when an employee facing a disciplinary hearing raises a grievance either about the process itself or about one of the managers conducting it. Does the disciplinary have to be postponed while the grievance is dealt with? In truth, there is simply no rule one way or the other. The test is whether the employer has acted reasonably in choosing to dismiss the employee.

In this case, the employee, a bus driver, had been the subject of complaints about the standard of her driving. Examination of CCTV footage allegedly showed her driving with one hand, clipping kerbs, running a red light and pulling into the path of two cars. She was instructed to attend a training centre for assessment but refused to do so claiming that she was being bullied and discriminated against. She was dismissed for insubordination and the Employment Appeal Tribunal refused to find that the employer should have postponed a disciplinary hearing to allow her grievance to be dealt with.

Importantly however, the employee’s grievance was not directed at the manager actually conducting the hearing. If that had been the case then the Tribunal might have been persuaded that a different manager should have been asked to step in.