Winckworth Sherwood

UK 200 2013 position: 94

Gross misconduct dismissals — Eastlands Homes Partnership Limited v Cunningham

In the recent case of Eastlands Homes Partnership Limited v Cunningham UKEAT/0272/13, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) confirmed the correct approach to determine whether a claimant has been unfairly dismissed for gross misconduct.

Mr Cunningham was employed by the appellant as a caretaker of a care home for the elderly. One of the tenants of the care home left his entire estate to Mr Cunningham and his wife. The appellant’s code of conduct prohibited employees from accepting gifts exceeding £50, and also stated that any gifts or benefits must be approved by the management of the care home. However, when the Cunninghams inherited the tenant’s entire estate, Mr Cunningham failed to declare his inheritance to the appellant until a disciplinary investigation was initiated three months later.

Following the disciplinary investigation, Mr Cunningham was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct (the most serious type of misconduct) on the basis that he had seriously breached the trust of the appellant by failing to disclose the fact that he was a beneficiary under a tenant’s will…

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