Employment Law Update – August 2020
Wednesday 5th August 2020
ANONYMOUS WITNESS EVIDENCE IN DISMISSALS
In Tai Tarian Ltd v Christie, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that, in the circumstances, it was not outside the range of reasonable responses to dismiss an employee based on the evidence of an anonymous witness.
Tai Tarian Ltd (TT Ltd) is a housing association, which employed the Claimant as a carpenter. A tenant of TT Ltd alleged that the Claimant had made homophobic comments to her. The Claimant was subsequently dismissed. The tenant had been interviewed by two managers of TT Ltd, but she requested anonymity and was therefore not interviewed by the managers who made the decision to dismiss the Claimant.
The employment tribunal came to the decision that the dismissal was unfair, as relying on an anonymous account and failing to take other steps to ensure that the Claimant had a fair hearing was outside the range of reasonable responses.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the tribunal had not demonstrated any good reason for its conclusion that TT Ltd could not have reasonably accepted the tenant’s evidence as truthful.
The case shows that it is possible for a dismissal on the basis of anonymous evidence to be within the range of reasonable responses an employer can take. However, employers should be very careful when attempting to dismiss on the basis of anonymous evidence, and should document clear reasons for believing the evidence to be true, and for permitting the evidence to be given anonymously.