Contrary to the case we have recently reported (Bandara v. BBC) we report on an EAT decision where the employer was allowed to rely on a final written warning, even though the Employment Tribunal held that the initial warning had been too unclear.
In this case, Mr Edwards, the Claimant, had in the past been issued with a first and final written warning by Perrys Motor Sales Limited relating to issues with invoices that had been handled by his department previously. He hadn’t appealed this warning, and, was later found guilty of making a false insurance submission and dismissed because of this and in light of the final written warning.
Essentially the appeal turned on whether the first written warning should have been relied on by Perrys in making the dismissal.
The legal test that applies can be found in Wincanton Group v. Stone. This case says that earlier warnings can be relied on without any enquiry by Tribunals unless they have been issued for “an oblique motive” or were“manifestly inappropriate”.
In this case, the initial written warning had been neither issued for an oblique motive, nor was it manifestly inappropriate Furthermore it had not been appealed, so the employer was entitled to rely on it and should not have been criticised for doing so by the Employment Tribunal.
This case appears to stand in stark contrast to Bandara. However, in Bandara, the enquiry into the initial warning had found that it was manifestly inappropriate. That was not the case here, so the cases do not contradict each other.