Arnold Clark Automobiles Ltd v Spoor UKEAT/0170/16/DA

In this case, Mr Spoor was dismissed for gross misconduct after he violently grabbed a colleague by the neck. At the Employment Tribunal he was successful in his claims of unfair dismissal, breach of contract and failure to pay notice pay as it was held that his employer, Arnold Clark Automobiles (ACA) had not undertaken a reasonable investigation and had dismissed without proper regard to all of the circumstances.

ACA appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal ("EAT") and the EAT dismissed the appeal. Mr Spoor had over 42 years' continuous service with an exemplary disciplinary record and the Company had not considered it appropriate to undertake any assessment as to the level or degree of physical violence. The Court found there was no evidence that the Company operated a zero tolerance policy towards physical violence or that it had given due consideration to Mr Spoor's otherwise exemplary record. The Judge concluded that by reason of the Company's failure to have regard to all of the surrounding circumstances the dismissal of Mr Spoor was unfair.

The lesson from this case is that employers must be thorough in their investigations of employee conduct and must take into account all the circumstances surrounding the incidents in question and the individual employees themselves.