Employment Appeal Tribunal
The appellant firm of solicitors (L) appealed against a decision of an employment tribunal that the respondent former employee (D) had been unfairly dismissed and that it had discriminated against her on racial grounds. D, a black Afro Caribbean, had been employed by L as a solicitor. During her employment, D had failed to return to work after a period of vacation and had missed a time limit in proceedings for which she had been responsible. Disciplinary proceedings were instituted against D and attempts to reach a compromise agreement to leave failed. D was dismissed for gross misconduct. The tribunal held that the substantive treatment of D's termination and the disciplinary procedures were reasonable and that the dismissal was within the band of reasonable responses open to L. However the tribunal upheld D's unfair dismissal and race discrimination claims on the basis that another employee, a black African, who had missed court deadlines on three occasions had been treated differently by L, in that she had not been disciplined. L submitted that (1) in respect of the unfair dismissal claim the tribunal had failed to apply the correct statutory test; (2) the tribunal had failed to make sufficient findings of fact as to whether the circumstances of D and the other employee were truly comparable; (3) before finding a prima facie case and applying the burden of proof provisions in respect of race discrimination, the tribunal ought to have considered whether the less favourable treatment was on racial grounds.
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