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A reasonable approach to investigating gross misconduct

20 February 2015

In Shrestha v Genesis Housing the Court of Appeal confirmed that employers do not have to investigate every line of defence put forward by an employee as long as the investigation is reasonable as a whole.

Mr Shrestha put in mileage claims, which were higher in 2011 than usual. On review, the mileages claimed were significantly higher than AA route-planner figures for the same journeys (sometimes nearly double). The reasons given were difficulty in parking, one-way road systems and diversions. The employer did not ask about every single journey because it was not considered plausible that he would have an explanation for each trip. He was dismissed for gross misconduct.

The employee’s unfair dismissal claim was rejected by the tribunal and the EAT and Court of Appeal agreed. The court’s decision is a victory for common sense, as it made it clear that to require an employer to investigate each line of an employee’s defence unless it was manifestly false or unarguable would be too narrow an approach.

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