If you discovered that an employee had sent an offensive email to another employee, what would you do? Would it make a difference if it was sent from his or her home computer?
Just this morning I read about a case* where the employee did exactly that. He sent an email containing racist and sexist material to his colleague who promptly forwarded it on and it then made it to the company’s computer systems. His employers dismissed him and although he took an unfair dismissal claim, the dismissal was upheld.
The employer made a decision during the process of firing the employee which later proved to be key to supporting their case. They dismissed him due to gross misconduct for having carried out an act which might damage the company’s reputation and for having breached their equal opportunities policy. Crucially, they did not make reference to their policies covering use of internet and email. The difference? Internet usage policies by definition usually only apply to company property. Since the employee used his own computer, dismissing him for a breach of the internet use policy would have been dodgy at best. At worst it would have been a successful unfair dismissal claim with the associated costs.
What does this story tell us? In a nutshell; if you’re going to dismiss an employee, you need to be sure that as well as following the correct process, you’re actually doing it for the right reasons, not the easiest or most convenient ones.
If you’re thinking about getting rid of an employee, make sure you speak to us first on 01487 815720.
*Case information taken from www.workplacelaw.net