private Investigators follow disabled employee

This month’s sensationalist piece of employment law is the case of Samuel v Wincanton plc. Here it was held that a gross misconduct dismissal for ‘exaggerating’ physical injury was unfair. Ms Samuel worked in Wincanton’s warehouse and was hit on the head by a falling drill bit.

The injuries caused her to suffer from severe nausea, headaches and poor balance. Her doctor signed her off work for a considerable amount of time. Despite advice from occupational health, Wincanton made no attempt to allow the Claimant to work in a less physical role.

They then hired private investigators who filmed Ms Samuel lifting some fruit whilst shopping. Wincanton took this as an exaggeration of her ailments and believed she would be able to lift 25kg boxes in the warehouse.

She was sacked for gross misconduct. The ET held this was unfair because the medical evidence and job specification greatly supported the video evidence insofar that she was not exaggerating her disability.

Furthermore Wincanton had not tried to redeploy Ms Samuel in a more suitable role. This is consistent with our other case involving private investigators which held dismissal fair as the Claimant was exaggerating his condition.