A former animal keeper has won a claim of unfair dismissal even though she broke company safety rules.
Jennifer CafferkySolicitor in our employment team, reports on this recent case.
Morna Gunn was employed at Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, which houses a variety of domestic and wild animals such as short claw otters and Scottish wildcats that could pose a risk to visitors.
Control measures were in place in the park, including “do not enter” or “staff only” with a no-entry sign and locks on doors.
Gunn allowed a former colleague to visit the park and took her into an area accessed through a door that has a “staff only” sign on it and is locked.
Gunn was dismissed after she was found to have breached the company’s rules by allowing a visitor to enter an area reserved for staff only.
She brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal, which noted that no evidence about the incident was provided to Gunn before her dismissal. The centre did not confirm the decision in writing by letter or similar, despite promising to do so. Gunn was not given a chance to explain her actions, and the centre did not follow the correct procedure in dismissing her.
Employment judge Kemp noted that “procedural flaws were many and serious” and breached the Acas Code of Practice. He said: “No investigation report was prepared, and written evidence was not provided to Gunn before the disciplinary hearing.” The decision to dismiss did not fall within the band of reasonable responses.
For more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Jennifer on 01228 516666 or click here to send her an email.