The Court of Appeal recently reiterated that the effect of a successful disciplinary appeal by an employee against his dismissal was that the dismissal effectively “vanished” and his employment was restored. He should be treated as if he had never been dismissed. It went on to suggest that an employer’s failure to address the appeal properly could amount to a serious breach of contract, entitling the employee to resign and claim constructive dismissal.
The case of Patel v Folkestone Nursing Home, concerned a contractual disciplinary procedure which failed to specify expressly the consequence of a successful appeal against a disciplinary sanction. Mr Patel had initially been dismissed on two grounds, sleeping on his break and falsifying patient records. Following his appeal, he was informed that that the decision to dismiss him had been revoked. However, the appeal and subsequent letter only addressed one of the two disciplinary allegations that had resulted in his dismissal.
Court of Appeal decision
The Court of Appeal upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s previous finding that revocation of the dismissal effectively meant it “vanished”. The Judge considered it was implicit in the contract that if an appeal is pursued and is successful, then the employment relationship is to be treated as having remained in existence throughout and the dismissal is to be treated as having no effect. There was no need for any formal reinstatement or re-issuing of the employment contract.