Tribunal watch: Unfair dismissal for smelling of alcohol at work


An employment tribunal has held that an NHS worker was unfairly dismissed after a colleague reported him for smelling of alcohol at work, without evidence to show that he was unfit for work. Stephen Simpson rounds up employment tribunal decisions reported in the past week.

Dismissal for coming to work smelling of alcohol was unfair
In McElroy v Cambridge Community Services NHS Trust, an employment tribunal held that an NHS trust unfairly dismissed an employee who was reported for coming to work smelling of alcohol, without further evidence that he was unfit for work.

The healthcare assistant was investigated following a report that he had come to work smelling of alcohol. He maintained that he had only had a few drinks the night before.

The tribunal highlighted that there was no evidence of impairment to function. No one had expressed any concern about the claimant’s behaviour, or suggested that he had been acting drunk.

The employment tribunal held that smelling of alcohol at work was not by itself sufficient to constitute gross misconduct justifying dismissal under the trust’s disciplinary procedure and substance misuse policy.

The tribunal also found that it was unreasonable for the claimant’s refusal to participate in an occupational health referral to be added to the reasons for dismissal.
Read full case report…

Other tribunal decisions in the headlines

Christian nursery worker wins religious discrimination case
A nursery worker in west London who was sacked for allegedly telling a lesbian colleague her lifestyle was sinful has won her discrimination case against her former employer, according to the Evening Standard. The tribunal found that employer’s investigation into the incident was inadequate.

Lewisham Southwark College loses case over blind worker’s access to software
An employment tribunal has ruled that Lewisham Southwark College discriminated against a blind employee by failing to make reasonable adjustments to help him do his job, according to FE Week.

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