Unfair dismissal claim back on track

Posted: 24th February 2015

EATA mental health nurse who was accused of inappropriately touching colleagues and behaving in an unacceptably sexualised manner has been given a fresh chance to prove that her dismissal was unfair.

The nurse strongly denied the accusations but was dismissed for gross misconduct by the charity for which she worked. An Employment Tribunal (ET) later found that the charity’s disciplinary investigation into her case was seriously flawed but nevertheless ruled that her dismissal was fair.

That decision was reached on the basis that she had also been accused of conduct which put a vulnerable patient at risk as well as using inappropriately sexualised examples in a one-to-one meeting with a service user. The latter incident was the immediate trigger for the disciplinary proceedings.

In allowing the nurse’s appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the ET had erred in its approach to the multiple allegations. In artificially isolating one alleged incident from the others, the ET had failed to focus on the charity’s ‘actual reasons’ for her dismissal, rather than the reasons which it could have had. The case was sent back to a freshly constituted ET for reconsideration.