Gross Misconduct & organisational change


The Court of Appeal has upheld the finding of an employment tribunal that an employee had been fairly dismissed for gross misconduct as a result of her poor attitude to organisational change.

The employee held a managerial position and was dismissed as a result of her failure to lead and support significant changes in her service and generally cooperate with the process. Her behaviour included at least one example of unprofessional conduct during a meeting. The employee brought claims of unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal (whistleblowing), wrongful dismissal, race discrimination, victimisation and whistleblowing detriment.

The first employment tribunal dismissed all her claims, highlighting that any breach of the ACAS Code with the original dismissal procedure was corrected by the internal appeal hearing. The Employment Appeal Tribunal also found the dismissal was fair.

The employee took the case to the Court of Appeal arguing that the misconduct found against her did not justify her dismissal and that the internal appeal panel should have been prevented from making a more serious finding (deliberate insubordination) than the original dismissing panel.

The CofA found that the employee was clearly informed of the case against her and had been able to respond, therefore the final categorisation of the specific type of misconduct was not necessary to find the dismissal was fair. Secondly, the CofA highlighted that they found the appeal panel’s findings were not more serious than the original panel as they did not increase the sanction.

This case is a useful reminder that the offering a right to appeal is an important part of the dismissal process and can help to fix earlier issues.

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