In Adesokan v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, it was argued that an employee’s failure to take adequate steps to remedy manipulation of survey scores, for which the employee was accountable, was an act of gross negligence and constituted gross misconduct. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court’s view that the employee’s dereliction of duty was “so grave and weighty” that it undermined the trust and confidence of the employment relationship and, therefore, summary dismissal was justified.
The Court of Appeal reaffirmed the approach taken in previous case law in this area; namely, that there is no fixed rule of law defining the degree of misconduct which will justify dismissal. Therefore, the question of whether the misconduct proved establishes the right to dismiss an individual depends on the facts. The Court of Appeal acknowledged that dishonesty and other actions which “poison the relationship” will obviously fall into the gross misconduct category, but so in an appropriate case can an act of gross negligence.