Email Us 01473 688 100

Case Law

Gross negligence was gross misconduct

In this case a dismissal of an employee for inaction, or gross negligence, was found to be for gross misconduct.

Adesokan v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd [Court of Appeal] | 2017

The Facts

Sainsbury’s have what they call ‘Talkback’, which is a process they use to measure employee engagement.  It is sacrosanct within Sainbury’s.

Mr A was a Regional Operations Manager for Sainbury’s, with responsibility for 20 stores.  He had been employed for 26 years. He worked with Mr Briner, a Human Resources Partner. Mr Briner sent an email to five store managers within Mr A’s region. The email suggested, as part of Talkback, that they: ‘should focus predominantly on getting [their] most enthusiastic colleagues to fill in the survey; using [their] huddles and briefings as a way of engaging these people. Slightly different to other years 100% completion is less important as long as you have a completion rate above 60% you will get a well-rounded view of your store.’

Mr Briner’s email ‘offended the philosophy of Talkback’. When Mr A became aware of the email he asked Mr Briner to clarify with the store managers what he meant.  Mr Briner did not. Mr A did not check. The email was sent a further two times. When Mr A realised Mr Briner had not actioned his request, he did nothing.

Sainbury’s dismissed Mr A without notice.  Sainbury’s took into account that Mr A was responsible for Talkback in his region, that Mr A was aware that Mr Briner had attempted to manipulate the results, and failed to take adequate steps to rectify the situation.  This was ‘gross negligence … tantamount to gross misconduct’.

Mr A brought a claim for dismissal in breach of contract, known as wrongful dismissal.

The Decision

The High Court had to answer whether Mr A’s ‘negligent dereliction of duty was so grave and weighty as to amount to a justification for summary dismissal’.  It decided that it did.

Upholding this decision, the Court of Appeal took into account that:

  • Mr A was responsible for the integrity of Talkback.
  • Talkback’s integrity was at risk of being undermined by Mr Briner’s email.
  • It was Mr A’s duty to remedy this.
  • Mr A took insufficient action.
  • Mr A’s failing had the effect of undermining the trust and confidence of the employment relationship and was capable of being gross misconduct.

Comment

This case was decided on its specific facts.  The Court noted that it is rare for a failure to act, without any deliberate intent, to amount to gross misconduct.  Mr A, however, given his position and the importance of Talkback, should have done more and his failure to do so was gross misconduct.

Book a phone consultation

Apply for a FREE phone consultation with one of our employment law solicitors to discuss your case, how we can help and find out how much it is likely to cost.

Selected evening and weekend appointments available.

Ola McGhee

How can we
help you?

01473 688100

Tell us about your case

Our online form is the easy way to tell us about your case and employment details.

Short of time? Our ‘save and resume’ feature lets you save your answers and complete the form later.

Becoming our client is a straightforward process. However, before choosing Quantrills as your employment law solicitors you’ll want to be completely sure we are the right people to help you achieve your objectives. Having looked at our web site, if you like our approach and would like to discuss how we can help you, getting started is easy.

Step 1

Get in Contact

Contact us and tell us a little about your problem and the help you are looking for.

Step 2

We’ll contact you

We’ll follow up with a free no obligation initial telephone call or email to discuss your case.

Step 3

Invitation to become our client

Provided we are happy we can help you, we’ll invite you to become our client.

Step 4

You instruct us

If you agree to our invitation, you simply have to confirm this is writing or by email and confirm your instructions.

Step 5

We’ll start to act for you

Congratulations! You are now a client of Quantrills and we’ll start work on your instructions.

At Quantrills we are flexible in how we work with you and how we progress your case...

In Person

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Get Directions

By Telephone

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

01473 688 100

Or request a call back

By Online Form

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

View Forms

By Email

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Email us

Reasons to Choose
Quantrills Solicitors

Trusted advice

Attention to attention

Speed of response

Pragmatic solutions

FREE Employer
Newsletter

Subscribe to our email based hrlegalnews to receive details of our Knowledge Bank & HR Updates updates and our forthcoming events.

Client Testimonials

View more