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Tribunal ‘error’ over unfair dismissal case

The Court of Appeal has ruled an employment tribunal misunderstood a “critical fact” in the firing of a gas station worker.

Earlson Bradshaw was fired from Raynor's Service Station for serious misconduct — but a tribunal later found he had been unfairly dismissed.

But Court of Appeal president Sir Scott Baker said in a written judgment: “The tribunal was in error in assuming a critical fact was the opposite to what was in truth the case.

“This was, in my judgment, a fundamental error and they could well have reached a different conclusion had they not made it.”

Mr Bradshaw was fired after he picked up a $50 bill that had been dropped by a customer and put it in his pocket.

Mr Bradshaw gave the bill back to the customer a few minutes later, but his employer decided he had intended to keep the cash.

The case was taken to an employment tribunal, who found in favour of Mr Bradshaw saying there was not “persuasive evidence” that he intended to keep the money.

However according to the Court of Appeal, the tribunal made a mistake when looking at the order of events.

While the tribunal found that Mr Bradshaw brought the missing bill to the customer's attention, the court accepted that the customer had approached Mr Bradshaw.

The court also found that Mr Bradshaw at first denied seeing the cash before giving it back to the customer.

The judgment said: “The case presented by the employer was that it was the customer who first raised the subject and the transcript of the video recording corroborates the customer's evidence adduced by the employer that that was so.

“If Mr Bradshaw, having just found a $50 bill on the floor, asks a customer if he has lost or dropped anything that is a strong pointer against a dishonest intention to keep it.

“If, on the other hand, the customer, having lost or dropped $50 asks the employee if he has picked it up and the employee denies it, it might be regarded as a pointer in the opposite direction.”

The judgment concluded: “With some reluctance, because of the time that has passed and the disproportionate amount of costs that are being incurred, I would allow the appeal and remit the case for rehearing before a differently constituted tribunal.”

Raynor's Service Station

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Published November 02, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated November 02, 2017 at 7:10 am)

Tribunal ‘error’ over unfair dismissal case

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