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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Jinadu v Docklands Buses held that an employer was not obliged to put a disciplinary process on hold while an employee's grievance was investigated.
Ms Jinadu was a bus driver and following complaints and CCTV footage showing her sub-standard driving, she was instructed to have a driving assessment. Ms Jinadu repeatedly refused to comply with the instruction and was therefore subject to the Docklands Buses' disciplinary procedure, which resulted in Ms Jinadu's suspension and subsequent dismissal for gross misconduct.
Ms Jinadu appealed against the decision to dismiss her and agreed to attend the driving assessment. The appeal hearing was adjourned to allow for Ms Jinadu's attendance at the assessment, but after Ms Jinadu failed to meet the required standard, the appeal hearing was reconvened and the dismissal was upheld. Ms Jinadu's dismissal was said to be in the interest of public safety due to her failure to display a satisfactory driving standard.
Throughout the disciplinary process, Ms Jinadu raised various grievances concerning some of the managers that were involved in the disciplinary process.
Ms Jinadu brought a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal (ET). The ET dismissed her claim on the ground that 'she repeatedly refused to attend the training at that the penalty of dismissal lay within the band of reasonable responses'.
Ms Jinadu appealed. The EAT allowed the appeal and remitted the case back to the ET on the basis that the ET had 'erred in failing to make proper findings as to (1) the reason(s) for the dismissal of the appeal and (2) the reason(s) for and reasonableness of the [Claimant]'s dismissal by reference to that or those reasons'.
The EAT did however conclude that Docklands Buses was not obliged to put the disciplinary investigation on hold until Ms Jinadu's grievances had been dealt with.
This case is encouraging for employers, showing that a dismissal is not necessarily unfair if an employer does not postpone disciplinary proceedings where a grievance has been raised during the disciplinary proceedings. Each case will however depend on its own facts and the outcome may depend of the nature of the grievances raised and how they relate to the disciplinary process concerned.