Never far from the headlines, Jeremy Clarkson, has allegedly been involved in a fracas on the filming of last Sunday’s episode of Top Gear. What precisely the “fracas” entailed remains to be seen and this is exactly the issue that any employer must address when considering disciplining or dismissing an employee.
However extreme or obvious the behaviour of an employee, it is essential that the employer conducts a proper investigation into what transpired. This is often the stage where the employee is suspended. This is to give the employer time to properly investigate the matter and garner the facts; if the employee continued to attend work it may hinder that investigation. For a dismissal to be fair there must be both a fair reason for the dismissal and the employer must have followed a fair procedure. A proper investigation is an essential procedural part. Further, just because the conduct is capable of amounting to gross misconduct this does not mean that dismissal should automatically follow. In the case of Brito-Babaplle v Ealing Hospital NHS Trust  the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the employer should not only take into account the nature of the misconduct but also the employee’s service and the consequences of dismissal on any previously unblemished record.
As to Mr Clarkson, his case may be different to that of an employee as he may be a contractor to the BBC. Whatever the case, an online petition calling for his re-instatement has reaching over 830,000 signatures. One way or another it would appear that Mr Clarkson will soon be back.
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