BA re-engagement order was wrong

Posted: 14th July 2014

plane landingIn an important decision for employers who have to deal with staff misbehaviour, British Airways has succeeded in overturning an order requiring it to re-engage a former cabin crew member who bore the lion’s share of responsibility for his own unfair dismissal.

The employee was sacked following an incident in which his behaviour had caused a flight delay. He had previously received a final written warning in respect of conduct issues. An Employment Tribunal (ET) nevertheless identified flaws in the disciplinary procedures followed by British Airways plc (BA) and ruled the dismissal unfair.

The ET found that the employee was 80 per cent responsible for his own dismissal and further reduced his entitlement to compensation by 50 per cent on finding that a fair dismissal might well have occurred had correct procedures been followed. The ET ruled that it would be unjust to require BA to reinstate the employee in his former role as if he had never been dismissed, but nevertheless directed his re-engagement.

In upholding BA’s challenge to the latter order, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that, on the facts of the case, there was little real difference between reinstatement and re-engagement. In the circumstances, it was hard to see how re-engagement could be just, and reinstatement unjust, and the ET had erred in principle by ‘in effect ordering reinstatement by a different name’.