UK: Unfair dismissal – broad investigation may be required where credibility of serious allegations at issue

Where an employer is contemplating dismissal for gross misconduct on the basis of disputed and uncorroborated evidence, fairness may require it to carry out a broad investigation, including into evidence that goes to credibility.

In Tykocki v Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the employer dismissed a healthcare assistant based on a patient's account of events, which was disputed by the employee and had not been witnessed. The EAT considered that the employer's failure to obtain general evidence from colleagues about the likely behavior of the employee, and its failure to investigate further allegations made by the patient at the internal appeal (which could have shed light on the patient's credibility), should have been taken into account by the tribunal in considering the overall fairness of the process (even though those failings did not impact on the particular allegation). The case was remitted.

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