Successful EAT Appeal

Johanna Darby, barrister from Trinity Chambers’ Employment Law Group successfully represented Gateshead Council at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) at a hearing that took place on 19th April 2011 with the judgment having now been published. Gateshead Council v Hope UKEAT/0582/10/LA .

A teacher already on a formal written warning for misconduct was dismissed as he had been heard by staff and pupils making a racist joke. The Employment Tribunal upheld his unfair dismissal complaint on the basis that (a) there were no genuine grounds for belief of misconduct (despite direct evidence of more than one witness); (b) no adequate investigation (because the employer did not interview pupils); and (c) dismissal outside range of reasonable responses. The EAT allowed the appeal by the Local Authority determining that this was a plain case of the Employment Tribunal substituting its own view and misdirecting itself regarding the burden of proof. Extract of the Judgment:-

“Without hesitation and unanimously we are of the view that in this case the Employment Tribunal did depart, and significantly depart, from the direction it had correctly given itself as to the law. In our judgment each of the three limbs of Ms Darby’s attack on the Tribunal’s Judgment under this ground are well made. We consider that the matters we have recounted at some length from her submissions do evidence a departure from the proper and correct approach. As is often said, context is all. We remind ourselves that this particular context is of an employee who is a teacher. He is necessarily, therefore, in a position of trust. Furthermore, this particular teacher was dealing with behaviourally disturbed young people who were already having difficulties in mainstream education. He was already on a final written warning when the matter of the racist joke arose.” 

The case has since been remitted to be heard before a new Tribunal. 

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