In a case that arose when an employee’s mileage claims were noticed to be significantly higher than usual, an internal investigation was carried out and the employee in question attended a disciplinary hearing after which, his employer dismissed him for gross misconduct for falsifying his mileage claims.
Whilst the employee argued that difficulty in parking, one-way systems and road closures/diversions were the reasons behind the increase in mileage, the internal investigation found that the sample of journeys it looked into all still had higher mileage claims than were necessary even when taking into account reasons for delays and longer routes.
Unfair dismissal claim
The employee appealed against his dismissal and brought a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal, both to no avail.
The employee then appealed against the Employment Tribunal’s decision, to the Court of Appeal, on the basis that the Employment Tribunal had not considered the internal investigation in enough detail, as not every mileage claim route was scrutinised.
The Burchell test
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal against the Employment Tribunal’s decision and found that it had correctly applied the necessary legal test (the Burchell test) when finding that the employer had carried out a reasonable investigation in the circumstances, despite not checking every claim.
It was not necessary for an employer to extensively investigate each line of defence advanced by an employee. This would be too narrow an approach; what was important was the reasonableness of the investigation as a whole.
Unfair dismissal solicitors
If you have been dismissed from your workplace and you feel that it was for incorrect and unfair reasons, or that your employer did not follow the proper protocol, speak to one of our specialist employment law solicitors.
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