Can gross negligence amount to gross misconduct?

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Yes, held the Court of Appeal in Adesokan v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.

The Claimant was a Regional Manager. He was dismissed because he became aware that another colleague had issued an e-mail which attempted to interfere in and subvert an important management consultation exercise and the Claimant did nothing to remedy the situation. The Employer held that this inaction demonstrated gross negligence and was tantamount to gross misconduct. The Claimant was dismissed without notice. The Claimant sued in the High Court for breach of contract, namely, failure to pay him his notice.

The High Court held that although the Claimant’s inaction was not deliberate, the negligence was so serious that it resulted in a loss of trust and confidence in the Claimant justifying dismissal without notice. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision but did state that what amounted to gross misconduct turned on the specific facts of each case and in this case, it was the fact that the Claimant held such a senior position within the Company that justified dismissal

Written By
Edward Aston
2nd February 2017