It seems that there is some disagreement over what the tribunal may consider in assessing whether an employer had reasonable grounds for dismissal. The EAT overturned a tribunal decision that a dismissal was unfair, noting that a tribunal is not entitled to find a dismissal unfair on the basis that a reasonable employer would not have taken so serious a view of the employee's conduct; they should consider whether the dismissal was reasonable given the employer's beliefs or reasons at the time.
In this case the employee was dismissed from her role in the employer company's HR department for various minor acts that the employer argued showed a breach of trust and confidentiality. Although the employee's conduct would not have been considered serious enough to warrant dismissal by a reasonable employer, the EAT found the dismissal was reasonable in the circumstances and so fair.
However this was not a unanimous decision by the EAT. A minority agreed with the tribunal that its decision as to whether the employer acted reasonably should be informed by its views of the merits of the case. Therefore there appears to be some disagreement over a crucial element of the test for unfair dismissal which may be addressed again in the future.
Enable Care and Home Support Ltd v Pearson