The EAT in Honda Motor Europe v McMillan have confirmed (in line with the Court of Appeal decision in Sainsbury v Hitt) that the range of reasonable responses test applies equally to investigations as it does to sanctions. This means a dismissal will only be fair if the employer investigates properly before proceeding to dismiss.
In Honda, the Employment Tribunal found the dismissal of the Claimant for allegedly grabbing a female employee’s breast was unfair. The Tribunal considered this to be the case because the Respondent had not carried out a reasonable investigation in that a formal, signed, written statement was not taken from the woman (although she was interviewed twice), the Respondent failed to respond formally to the woman’s grievance and the decision to dismiss was taken jointly by HR and line management whereas the Company’s policy was for the decision to be taken solely by the line manager.
The EAT held that none of these factors rendered the investigation inadequate. The Respondent’s investigation was within the range or reasonable responses and the dismissal was fair.