February 27, 2017
Yes...depending on the facts of the case.
The Claimant in Adesokan v Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd was a Regional Manager who became aware that a HR Manager had sent an email which attempted to interfere in and undermine an important management consultation exercise. The Claimant did nothing to get it withdrawn or to remedy the situation. At a disciplinary hearing it was decided that his failure to act demonstrated gross negligence which was "tantamount to Gross Misconduct" and he was dismissed without notice. He sued for breach of contract.
The High Court held that even though the inaction of the Claimant was not deliberate his negligence was so serious that it resulted in sufficient a "loss of trust and confidence" to justify his dismissal. The Court of Appeal agreed. Even though courts should not easily find that a mere failure to act amounted to gross misconduct, on the facts of this case the senior position the Claimant had in the Company justified the dismissal.