Does an employer require to put a disciplinary process on hold when an employee raises a grievance?
It depends. In Jinadu v Dockland Buses Limited the employee bus driver was dismissed following disciplinary proceedings arising from complaints that her driving was not of a satisfactory standard. During the course of the proceedings Ms Jinadu made a number of allegations relating to discrimination and the way in which she had been treated by her managers. These were not dealt with prior to dismissing her. The employment tribunal found that her dismissal was fair.
Decision of the EAT
The employee appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. She argued that the disciplinary procedure should have been suspended while her grievance was dealt with. The EAT did not agree. Unfortunately it did not provide any explanation and dismissed the point in one sentence.
What does this mean for employers?
• A failure to put a disciplinary process on hold whilst an employee’s grievance is dealt with will not necessarily make the dismissal unfair.
• Whether the disciplinary proceedings should be suspended will depend on the specific facts, particularly the degree to which the disciplinary and grievance issues are related.
• If the grievance could impact on the fairness of the disciplinary decision (e.g. if the employee is alleging that the disciplinary hearer is biased or discriminatory) then it is more likely that the employer will need to suspend the disciplinary process.
Please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact if you need advice on whether you should postpone disciplinary proceedings when faced with an employee grievance.