A case that has attracted a fair bit of interest in the employment law world is the recent case of Bowater v NW London Hospitals NHS Trust.

The gist of this was that a staff nurse was restraining a patient who was having a fit. In doing so she required to sit astride him and made the comment "it's been a few months since I have been in this position."

Despite having no previous disciplinary record and despite the fact that the comment was only heard by colleagues she was dismissed for gross misconduct. A Tribunal held that the employee was unfairly dismissed finding that whilst the comment could have been viewed as lewd, a "large proportion of the population" would have considered it to be humorous.

On appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed and found the dismissal to be fair but this has been recently overturned by the Court of Appeal who agreed with the original Tribunal that the dismissal was unfair.

This case does perhaps act as a warning to employers not to overreact to situations and to take into account the full circumstances of a case (the previous unblemished record, the fact that no member of the public or the patient had heard the comment) before deciding whether or not to dismiss