Successful dismissal appeal must lead to reinstatement
In the case of Marangakis v Iceland Foods Ltd, the employee was dismissed in January 2019 for gross misconduct. She appealed against the dismissal and, initially, requested that she be reinstated back into the organisation. However, as the appeal progressed, she changed her mind and instead stated that the mutual term of trust and confidence, which must usually be present within an employment relationship, had been broken, so she felt she could no longer work there. She asked for an apology and compensation, but said she did not want to return to work.
Her appeal was upheld in April 2019, with the chair instructing that she be immediately reinstated with full continuity of service and backpay for the non-working time between the initial dismissal and appeal outcome. But, she still believed the breach in mutual trust was irreversible so did not return to work. As a result, she was (re-)dismissed three months later for her refusal to attend work.
She proceeded to raise a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, saying that her initial January 2019 dismissal was unfair (no claims were raised against her subsequent dismissal in July 2019 for refusal to work). The Employment Tribunal (ET) rejected her claim, so she appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
The EAT agreed fully with the ET and did not uphold the claim. When making its decision, the EAT highlighted that, where an employee has the contractual right to appeal, it is expected that they will be treated as having never been dismissed, and will be reinstated with back pay, if their appeal is successful. As such, it is seen that the dismissal will, effectively, have “vanished.”
In this case the employee’s dismissal had, in essence, vanished. Therefore, she could only have avoided the outcome of the appeal (reinstatement) by withdrawing it completely. Since she did not withdraw her appeal, the EAT found that she accepted its consequences, so had to adhere to them.
Had the employer not followed a full and fair appeal process following the initial dismissal, they may have faced an entirely different situation. Rather than managing the issue internally, they could have had an unfair dismissal claim raised against them. The Employment Tribunal would then have had to look at the reasons for the original gross misconduct dismissal in January 2019 and decide whether or not it was fair.
By completing a robust appeals process, the employer manager to avoid such claims arising. As such, the case should serve as an important reminder to organisations to deal with disputes effectively and to overturn decisions where mistakes have been made or sanctions have been too harsh.
It is always better to resolve disputes internally where possible, rather than having them progress to formal tribunal hearings, which can be timely and costly.