In Gnahoua v Abellio London Ltd, a bus company refused to allow a bus driver to be accompanied to his disciplinary appeal meeting by either of two brothers who also were union officials. The brothers were both banned from attending workplace meetings because of their previous vexatious and threatening conduct, which included falsifying the date of a witness statement.
In coming to its decision, the tribunal followed previous Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) caselaw stating that provided the companion is an employed trade union official, a certified trade union official or a colleague, the employee has an absolute right to be accompanied by a chosen companion. However, the EAT also suggested that where an employee has not suffered any loss or detriment on account of not having said companion, a nominal amount of compensation might be payable.
In this instance, the bus driver had not suffered any loss or detriment, and the bus company was found to have conducted the disciplinary hearing comprehensively (albeit breaching the right to accompanied).
What Have We Learned?
The case does not belittle the importance of an employees' unfettered right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing; however, it does make clear that where an individual has suffered no loss, the employee will not be entitled to substantial damages.