The Importance of Disciplinary Investigations

The question for the Court of Appeal (“COA”) to consider in the case of Coventry University v Mian [2014] EWCA Civ 1275, was whether the employer had pursued disciplinary proceedings without any proper justification for doing so thereby breaching its duty of care to the employee. This case concerned an employee who had allegedly been complicit with a colleague in preparing false references which were subsequently used to obtain new employment.
The COA found that the employer had not breached its duty of care to the employee on the basis that the decision to instigate disciplinary proceedings had not been unreasonable. The court was satisfied that an objective assessment had been made, reiterating the point that reasonable employers can reach different decisions without breaching their duty to their employee
This case demonstrates the importance of undertaking thorough investigations into disciplinary allegations. The employer must:

1. Define the allegations at the outset;
2. Search for relevant evidence;
3. Ensure that the employee understands what the allegations are.

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