Public disgrace could justify dismissal

Organisations worried about damage to their reputations from the
out-of-hours misconduct of employees could be justified in sacking them.

In the case of Post Office v Liddiard, the Court of Appeal said that in
cases where the employer is identified publicly with the individual, the
adverse effect on their corporate image could be reasonable grounds for

The case followed the arrest of a Post Office employee in France during the
1998 World Cup for public order offences and his subsequent naming and shaming
in the UK press.

The Post Office dismissed him as a result, but the employment tribunal
upheld his complaint for unfair dismissal on the grounds that he had an
excellent employment record and the misconduct was unrelated to his work.

The Court of Appeal however allowed the appeal, saying the issue of bringing
the employer into disrepute had not been properly considered.

But employment lawyers warned the decision to dismiss should be taken only
after an assessment of the nature and extent of the publicity, the nature of
the offence and the likely reactions of customers.

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