Sacked engineer fails with unfair dismissal claim in Employment Tribunal

A sacked service engineer has failed with his unfair dismissal claim after going to the Employment Tribunal.

Virgin Media engineer Mr Dennis Swadel started working for the company in X but was dismissed last year after allegations that he had not been carrying out his duties properly.

Mr Swadel had received a final written warning for failing to undertake his role properly by incorrectly filling out forms when the incident which resulted in his dismissal took place on 31 October 2012. On the day in question Mr Swadel was working at the side of a “pit chamber” – a hole dug in the road to expose equipment – undertaking his work. It is standard practice at Virgin to cover exposed pit chambers with a pit guard to minimize the health and safety risk to third parties. A field manager at Virgin, a Mr McEwan, drove past Mr Swadel’s place of work and noticed, however, that Mr Swadel had not put the pit guard on the chamber. He then witnessed Mr Swadel kicking the pit lid on to the pit chamber and then go up the road to his van to fetch the pit cover. Mr McEwan was concerned about Mr Swadel’s actions and addressed him on these. Mr Swadel at this point apparently pleaded with Mr McEwan not to report the incident to the office as “it could cost me my job.” However, Mr McEwan did so and this resulted in a disciplinary hearing for Mr McEwan, after which he was dismissed.

The dismissed engineer subsequently took his former employer to the Employment Tribunal in a claim for unfair dismissal, alleging that Mr McEwan had been biased and that the evidence against him had been fabricated. However, the Employment Tribunal dismissed Mr Swadel’s complaints, stating that it did not believe that Mr McEwan had been spying on him, that the field manager couldn’t be criticized for keeping an eye on him and that his dismissal and appeals were handled by line managers who were impartial and independent of Mr McEwan.