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Employment Law Case Update: Temitope Adeshina v St George's University NHS Foundation Trust

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Good organisational skills don’t stop at your desk. Getting your dismissal procedures in order can tighten up your response to a claim. How it can stretch on into further tribunal time is illustrated in the case of Temitope Adeshina v St George’s University NHS Foundation Trust.

Ms Adeshina was the principle pharmacist in the Pharmacy department of Wandsworth Prison, and employed by St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. There was a project to re-organise the way in which the pharmacy services were provided and Ms Adeshina was involved in this. One of the changes was a move from nurse-led pharmacy to pharmacist-led services. Ms Adeshina did not approve of this change and she made her disapproval known.

The governor, deputy governor and two senior trust staff raised concerns about her lack of leadership during the changes. The Trust’s chief pharmacist carried out a disciplinary investigation. The report from this investigation concluded that the allegations against Ms Adeshina were valid. Ms Adeshina was sent a copy of the report along with a letter inviting her to a disciplinary meeting. Following this meeting she was dismissed for gross misconduct. Her actions of failing to co-operate with, support or lead change - and at least one instance of unprofessional behaviour at a meeting - were the basis for the gross misconduct.

Ms Adeshina appealed the dismissal and the Trust then conducted a full re-hearing of the decision with three senior managers on the panel. There was also an independent advisor to the panel. Ms Adeshina objected to one of the panel members who had been involved in an operational document as part of the case against her and also a mentor to the victim of one of her acts of misconduct. Another panel member was also less senior than the original dismissing officer.

The appeal panel upheld the decision to dismiss her for gross misconduct. Ms Adeshina brought a claim for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and race discrimination. The Employment Tribunal held that there had been some procedural flaws in the original decision to dismiss but these had been cured by the internal appeal process. On appeal the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with this reasoning. The EAT also commented on the fact that the panel were unlikely to have been unduly influenced by having a more junior member on the panel.

Ms Adeshina argued the misconduct found against her was incapable of justifying a dismissal at the Court of Appeal. She also argued that the flaws in the original dismissal decision process pointed towards race discrimination. The Court of Appeal disagreed with both these points.

What this case demonstrates is that where there are potential significant errors in a dismissal process, employers should consider holding a full rehearing at appeal. This can be capable of curing the defects of the original decision. 

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.