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The Appeal of Appeals

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Quite often we find ourselves reporting on cases where, despite the decisions made by a company to dismiss an individual, being considered logical and fair, their case is lost due to an inability to follow due process. Here follows yet another example of this inability to follow a set procedure.

The recent case of Radia v Jeffries International Limited, involves the Managing Director of a regulated financial services company, Mr Milan Radia.

Radia worked for the investment bank Jefferies International from 21 June 2006 until his dismissal on 6 March 2017. He was originally employed as an equity research analyst before being promoted to managing director at the end of 2009.

Given the nature of Milan Radia’s role it was noted as an FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), regulated position. In 2015 Radia brought a disability discrimination claim against his employer and the decision was handed down on 6 February 2017.

The original Employment Tribunal found against Mr Radia and he was criticised for the credibility of evidence presented and his manner, which was found to be somewhat evasive. On receiving the judgement, Mr Radia was suspended by his employer pending a disciplinary. The following month he was dismissed.

There had been no investigation of the matter before the disciplinary hearing, instead the decision to dismiss relied on the findings of the first Employment Tribunal. Referring to the nature of the work and as a “regulated person” Jeffries International Ltd, decided the Employment Tribunal’s decision and notably their references to Mr Radia’s credibility, were basis enough to dismiss him for gross misconduct.

Critically, Milan Radia was not offered an appeal hearing by his employer.

Mr Radia raised an appeal with the EAT stating that his dismissal was unfair because of the lack of investigation prior to the disciplinary hearing and essentially, he had not been offered the opportunity of an appeal hearing. This omission was directly contrary to the employer’s own procedure. It is also contrary to ACAS’s own dismissal procedure guidelines.

Not following their own dismissal policy left any such decision at risk of being unsafe and the lesson for employers is clear.

The EAT upheld the original Employment Tribunal decision, in that the dismissal was fair and justified on the basis of the disciplinary hearing taking evidence from the judgment and observations of the Employment Tribunal. It was noted by the EAT that the decision reached at the disciplinary hearing was within the range of reasonable responses.

Where matters somewhat unravelled for Jeffries International Ltd was in the analysis of why they failed to offer Mr Radia an internal appeal process. With the lack of such a fundamental step in the process the dismissal was considered unfair.

Not following their own dismissal policy left any such decision at risk of being unsafe and the lesson for employers is clear.

Despite the findings of an Employment Tribunal and no matter how “cut and dried” the outcome appears to be it should not short cut the processes set out by the business. Regardless of ET decisions employers should undertake their own thorough and reasonable investigations, disciplinary steps and ensure a right of appeal is made available to each employee.

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