Michael Hayward worked for Noel Chadwick butchers for over seven years. His misdemeanour was to share a discount from online retailer Fresh Meat Packs North West on Facebook with his girlfriend.
His employer felt that he had breached the company’s social media policy and the terms of his contract by “advertising” a competitor on social media and he was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.
Unfortunately for the employer, there was no formal disciplinary process, no right of appeal given and even an admission in tribunal that they had already decided to dismiss Michael prior to the disciplinary meeting.
The employer tried to maintain that the misconduct led to financial and reputational loss but the judge disagreed, calling this opinion “fanciful” and the misdemeanour “minor”.
Mr Hayward was awarded over £6,000 in compensation and fee reimbursement.
The case demonstrates the importance of a full and fair investigation and disciplinary process before dismissing an employee for any reason.
It also reminds us to remove our personal feelings when making decisions and to look at the facts when determining the most appropriate level of sanction.