Employee was fairly dismissed for a series of misconduct incidents even though no single act amounted to gross misconduct
In Mbubaegbu v Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that dismissal of a surgeon for a series of incidents of misconduct was fair even though none of those acts individually amounted to gross misconduct. The EAT also held that the Tribunal did not need to reconsider this decision in the light of the GMC’s conclusion that it would take no regulatory action against the surgeon.
Mr Mbubaegbu was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with 15 years’ unblemished service. Mr Mbubaegbu and his colleagues were monitored in order to assess their compliance with revised departmental rules and responsibilities. An investigation by external HR consultants found non-compliance with the new requirements by Mr Mbubaegbu and four other consultants. Although there were fewer findings against Mr Mbubaegbu, the departmental medical director considered that they were the most serious. Further investigations took place during which Mr Mbubaegbu continued to practise. Disciplinary action was then taken against him in respect of 17 allegations. He was subsequently summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. At the time of the disciplinary hearing, he had been working for 16 months with no further concerns being reported. Mr Mbubaegbu brought various claims, including a claim for unfair dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Mbubaegbu had been fairly dismissed. The Tribunal noted that the disciplinary panel had considered some of Mr Mbubaegbu’s actions to be grossly careless and negligent, amounting to a repeated pattern of unsafe behaviour which increased the risks to patients. The panel was also concerned that a final written warning would not be sufficient because Mr Mbubaegbu was wilful in his approach. Although there was no single act of gross misconduct, the individual offences of misconduct clearly amounted to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence and dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses. It was also fair to dismiss Mr Mbubaegbu, and not his colleagues, because his breaches were more numerous and more serious. The Tribunal rejected an application by Mr Mbubaegbu for reconsideration of its judgment in light of the GMC’s subsequent conclusion from its own investigation that his fitness to practise was not impaired… READ FULL ARTICLE