This case being heard at the EAT and reported in the Irish Times highlights the importance to employers of treating employees consistantly and not ‘cherry picking’ one or two for disciplinary action where others also took part in the activities concerned.
James Reilly was dismissed for receiving and forwarding sexually explicit e-mails on his work computer in work time. In itself this could potentially amount to gross misconduct. However, where his employer – the Bank of Ireland, came unstuck was that (allegedly) senior managers also sent similar e-mails and ‘pornography was endemic in the Bank’.
It is important for employers, when deciding whether to discipline or not and what sanction to impose, to consider not just the case in isolation but also in the context of wider behaviour in the workplace.