Employee misconduct: carrying out a reasonable investigation

Businesses should take note of a Court of Appeal decision that focused on the level of investigation that an employer may be expected to undertake where there is an alleged theft or act of dishonesty by an employee. In this case, the court restored an employment tribunal’s decision that an employee had not been unfairly dismissed for theft. Although the employee in question had, following dismissal, been found not guilty of theft in a criminal court, the tribunal was entitled to find that the employer had acted reasonably in dismissing him following a reasonable investigation.

The decision also underlines the importance for businesses of making sure that a fair process is followed in similar situations. In this instance, the employee had been given every opportunity for his case to be heard at both a disciplinary hearing and an appeal hearing, and therefore the process was deemed fair