Posted: 16th November 2016
Workplace disciplinary processes often have a number of distinct phases and legal errors in any one of them can be enough to infect the whole. Dismissal is never easy, but when a final written warning is found flawed, where does the employer stand?
That point was made in the case of a BBC producer, Mr Bandara, who was summarily dismissed after being issued with a "manifestly inappropriate" final written warning.
The producer had a record of 18 years' unblemished service with the BBC. He had apologised to a senior manager after shouting at her during an argument, but the warning was issued following the second serious incident in June, the day after Prince George’s birth. On this occasion Mr Bandara chose to honour the coverage of the 30th anniversary of Black July – a dismal day in Sri Lankan history – over that of the newborn prince.
Further disciplinary proceedings soon followed, with reference to intimidation and refusing to obey management orders. These all amounted to the dismissal of Bandara on 15 August 2014. This tribunal found the original written warning as ‘manifestly inappropriate,’ which of course the BBC appealed whilst Bandara appealed against his dismissal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal examined both appeals and found the original tribunal correct in concluding that the final written warning was clearly disproportionate to the incidents in question. It found that neither of these incidents amounted to gross misconduct, according to the BBC’s own guidelines or generally accepted standards. However they sent the case back to the lower tribunal for the fairness of Mr Bandara’s dismissal to be reconsidered, as once the existing written warning was no longer to be taken into account the reasonableness of the dismissal had to be reviewed.