By Sanika Karandikar - 31 March 2021
The Employment Tribunal held in the case of Deimantas Kubilius v Kent Foods Ltd, that a delivery driver was fairly dismissed for refusing to wear a mask on a client site, which was in breach of the health and safety obligations in the employee handbook. An altogether unsurprising judgement considering the circumstances in which the dismissal arose but nevertheless a relief and good news for employers.
In short, the facts of the incident are as follows:
Tate & Lyle banned Mr Kubilius from their site and an investigation and disciplinary process followed. Tate & Lyle were not willing to reverse Mr Kubilius’s site ban, which put Kent Foods in a sticky situation considering Tate & Lyle was the main customer for this depot. Mr Kubilius was summarily dismissed on the grounds of his gross misconduct and subsequently brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.
Finding that the dismissal was fair, the Tribunal took the following into account:
This case is perhaps limited to these facts, as the third party pressure from Tate & Lyle made dismissal the only viable option for Kent Foods. The Tribunal opined that a different employer may have chosen to issue a written warning but found that Kent Foods’ decision fell within the ‘reasonable range of responses’.
Here are some key takeaways:
Although this judgement will not be binding on other Employment Tribunals, it may be persuasive on future judgements. Nevertheless, it is a helpful case to have at your disposal.
If you would like to discuss the implications of this case further please get in touch with Sanika Karandikar or your usual GQ|Littler lawyer.