Proper investigation before disciplinary

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Dismissed without notice for gross misconduct on the grounds that the company had a zero tolerance policy towards physical violence.

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A mechanic who lost his temper and attacked a colleague has won an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal in a case which highlights the importance of policies and proper investigations before any dismissal. 

Mr Spoor had worked for Arnold Clark Automobiles for 42 years and had an exemplary record before placing his hands momentarily on a colleagues neck for a few seconds, following which he apologised. 

Mr Spoor was interviewed about the incident in a disciplinary hearing following which he was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct on the grounds that the company had a zero tolerance policy towards physical violence.  Mr Spoor brought a claim for unfair and wrongful dismissal and won as the Employment Tribunal found that no reasonable employer would have dismissed an employee in these circumstance, given the context and Arnold Clarks subsequent appeal also failed when the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the company had failed to take into account all the relevant circumstances such as Spoors long service and the fact that there was no evidence of the company’s zero policy tolerance on physical violence on which they had relied to dismiss Mr Spoor. 

The decision reminds us that although physical violence falls within the gross misconduct remit, the importance of a thorough, fair investigation cannot be over emphasised, and neither can the importance of having clear policies in place that staff are aware of and familiar with. 

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