By Jennie Jahina
Head of Employment Law
AT the recent CIPD seminar held at our Kettering office, one of the seminar topics I presented concerned investigations and the importance they should be given. I was therefore very interested in the case of Radia v Jeffries International in which the tribunals concluded that the failure to conduct an investigation meeting did not render the claimant's dismissal unfair.
The claimant brought a disability discrimination claim against his employer. In its written judgment, the Employment Tribunal (ET) did not find the claimant's evidence to be credible which then led to his dismissal on grounds of credibility concerns. No investigation meeting was held and the claimant brought a further claim - this time for unfair dismissal. Despite the omission of an investigatory meeting, the ET found that the claimant had been fairly dismissed. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with this conclusion although they deemed the omission of the appeal stage rendered the dismissal unfair overall.
So does this mean that employers can skip the investigation meeting without fear of an unfair dismissal claim?
Although this case suggests this may be true, I believe that any employer will do this at its peril. When the facts of the case are considered carefully it is clear that, although there was no formal investigation meeting, there was a brief investigation which consisted of consideration of the written judgment in the discrimination claim.
It was accepted that the claimant was given the opportunity to respond to the judgement at the disciplinary hearing and after the hearing, the employer considered additional documentation submitted by the claimant - all parts of a good investigation. The fact these steps did not form part of a formal investigation did not, in this instance, render the process unfair.
I believe the case reinforces that any management process which requires a finding to be made should have at its heart a fair and considered investigation. That investigation needs to be conducted in a timely manner by the right person and allow for meetings where proper responses can be given.
For more information, contact Wilson Browne Solicitors on 0800 088 6004 or visit www.wilsonbrowne.co.uk