In Ezsias v North Glamorgan NHS Trust the Employment Appeals Tribunal has handed down a useful judgment for employers. In this case Mr Ezias was dismissed following conduct which his colleagues resented and which led to an unwillingness to work with him. The question arising was whether his dismissal had to be justified in relation to his conduct or in relation to the situation which arose as a result. The EAT decided it was the latter.
It is in some respects a complicated point but, following usual principles, if there is a break down of trust and confidence leading to dismissal of an employee, the reasonableness and justification for that dismissalwill be considered primarily by looking at the circumstances at the time of dismissal. In practical terms, it does not matter if the circumstances leading to that breakdown of trust would not have justified dismissal, for example a first instance of minor misconduct by the employee being dismissed, or even the complete innocence of the employee being dismissed. The employer must take culpability into account but where the employer is faced with a break down of trust and confidence, howsoever caused, the employer is entitled to take reasonable steps to resolve that situation. Those steps may include dismissal.