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Suspending a disciplinary hearing to deal with a grievance- is this always essential?

31st May 2015
It is quite common for an individual facing disciplinary action, or even during the disciplinary process, to raise a grievance. A problem that employers are then faced with is whether or not to continue with the disciplinary process, or deal with the grievance before completing the disciplinary process.

A recent decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) addressed such a situation. In the case of Jinadu v Docklands Buses concerned Ms Jinadu, a bus driver. Due to concerns over her driving standards she was required to undergo a driving assessment. She refused to undergo the assessment. Disciplinary action was commenced over her refusal to attend the assessment. During the disciplinary proceedings she made a number of allegations about various managers. Despite those allegations the employer went on with the disciplinary process and dismissed Ms Jinadu. At the Employment Tribunal the dismissal was found to have been fair.
At the appeal, Ms Jinadu argued, among other matters, that the dismissal had been unfair because her employer had not suspended the disciplinary process to allow the allegations to be dealt with as a grievance.

In giving judgment the EAT rejected the contention that the dismissal was unfair because the disciplinary process had not been suspended to deal with the grievance. The judgment addressed this issue in just a single sentence, so did not give any analysis of the law on this point or detailed reasoning. However, it does re-affirm the view that the failure to complete a grievance process before concluding the disciplinary process will not automatically render the resulting dismissal unfair. As always, each case should be considered on its own facts, including a careful consideration of how far the topic of the grievance relates to the disciplinary issues (or the main people that have made allegations or provided evidence within the disciplinary process). For example a totally unrelated issue in a grievance might not justify a delay in a disciplinary process, similarly a grievance about the disciplinary process may itself sometimes be addressed within the disciplinary process.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Hallett Employment Law Services Ltd if you need assistance or advice in dealing with any issue raised in this article.
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