Violence in the workplace and unfair dismissal claims

by Redmans Solicitors on March 19, 2013

  • SumoMe

Violence inside or outside of the workplace is an all-too-common phenomenon and can have serious consequences for both employers and employees. We’ll therefore take a look at violence in a workplace context in this post and examine the potential consequences of violent conduct for employees (including an examination of the potential for Employment Tribunal proceedings). We’ll do so by examining the following:

  1. Does it matter if the violence was inside or outside of work?
  2. Can my employer suspend me because of allegations of violence?
  3. Can my employer dismiss me because of allegations of violence?
  4. Do I have a claim for unfair dismissal if I’m dismissed for violence?

Does it matter if the violence was inside or outside of work?

The short answer to this question is “no” – violence both in the course of employment and outside of the course of employment can be treated as grounds for misconduct by an employer. This is because the consequences of violence both inside and outside of the workplace can be particularly serious, possibly so serious to damage the employer’s reputation or business.

Can my employer suspend me because of allegations of violence?

An employee may be suspended from work either during an investigation into allegations of misconduct and pending a disciplinary hearing, as a disciplinary sanction following misconduct, or pending an appeal against dismissal. If your employer has reasonable grounds for believing that the allegations of violence made against you are true then they may choose to dismiss you. If you are suspended then the suspension should be confirmed in writing as soon as possible and the reasons for suspending you should be made clear. Suspension should also not be a “knee-jerk” reaction and should be considered carefully as an overzealous suspension may damage the duty of trust and confidence that exists between the employer and the employee (entitling the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal).

Can my employer dismiss me because of allegations of violence?

Violence in the workplace can constitute gross misconduct, entitling your employer to terminate your contract without notice (also known as “summary dismissal”).

In order to fairly dismiss you for violence in the workplace, your employer must have done the following:

  • Subjected you to a fair and reasonably thorough investigation and disciplinary process
  • Made a decision to dismiss that is within the  range of reasonable responses in the circumstances

In order for a dismissal for misconduct to be within the range of reasonable responses, your employer must have a genuine and reasonable belief that the allegations against you are true, a fair and reasonably thorough investigation and disciplinary process must have been conducted, and the decision to dismiss must have been both fair and proportionate. Your employer will normally have consulted an employment lawyer for employment law advice on whether dismissing you is fair and it may be a good idea to consult a solicitor yourself if you’re accused of an act which may constitute gross misconduct.

Do I have a claim for unfair dismissal if I’m dismissed for violence?

This really all depends on the facts of the matter. If your employer failed to conduct a reasonable investigation or made a decision to dismiss you that was completely perverse on the evidence then you may be able to successfully claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and compromise agreement solicitors

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