Unfair Dismissal - in a Mcflurry to dismiss?

Sarah Finch was sacked from a McDonalds restaurant (based in West Wales) for gross misconduct following an accusation of giving away food without receiving payment.  The 19 year old argued that she had merely given a fellow colleague a little extra chocolate topping on their 99p Mcflurry.  Miss Finch was consequently dismissed for gross misconduct. 

Miss Finch argued that McDonalds has no procedures in place to measure the amount of toppings for any one Mcflurry and that naturally the amounts distributed to customers will vary.  Miss Finch explained that the measure that she gave her colleague "erred on the side of more than, rather than less than the mean amount of toppings given on a Mcflurry although there were no specific guidelines". 

Given the lack of written procedure, along with Miss Finch's reputation as an "exceptional employee," the consequence of dismissal for her actions did not sit comfortably within the band of reasonable responses.

Miss Finch commenced legal action for unfair dismissal against the franchise company who run a string of McDonald's restaurants.  An out-of-court settlement has now been reached whereby Miss Finch was awarded over £3,000 in compensation.  This was an amount equal to around 20 weeks wages. 

The law governing Unfair Dismissal contains an objective test, questioning whether the employer's decision to dismiss the employee falls within the range of reasonable responses open to a reasonable employer. In other words, the sanction imposed must be proportionate to the act/conduct in question.  In this instance dismissal for such a small misdemeanour was significantly disproportionate, and the McDonalds legal team clearly agreed with this thus agreeing to an out of court settlement.  Interestingly, without a confidentiality clause as Miss Finch wanted to publicly "clear her name".    

Posted on: 03/01/2013

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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