New Blogpost: Thumping Colleagues is not OK!
The recent high-profile case of Jeremy Clarkson hitting a colleague because the hotel he was staying at did not have a hot meal waiting for him at the end of a day’s work has raised a lot of comment. Whether or not you’re a fan of Top Gear and Clarkson’s antics, the fact of the matter is that he crossed a line.
I know that fellow employees can often be annoying - after all we don’t necessarily choose who we work with and some of them can be very irritating. I’ve come across a few myself. But however much they get on your nerves or the situation you are in is not to your liking, you must not verbally or physically abuse them. Most employers have disciplinary procedures to deal with errant employees and abuse of colleagues is normally deemed to be very serious. Indeed Acas lists “physical violence or bullying” in the list of gross misconduct offences in its example disciplinary procedure, Physical violence is also usually included in bullying and harassment policies as examples of unacceptable behaviour.
In many cases of bullying it can be difficult to get evidence because people often do it when there are no witnesses about so that it is one person’s word against another, but in this case it appears that the evidence was quite clear - there were witnesses and the individual sustained visible physical injuries.
As a “reasonable” employer the BBC was obliged to carry out an investigation - but given the evidence, it was going to be difficult to come to any other conclusion than gross misconduct. In reaching that decision it then had to decide whether the normal sanction of dismissal (or non-renewal of contract) was appropriate or whether there were any mitigating circumstances. In Clarkson’s case he was already on a “final warning” so could not rely on a blemish-free record to support his case.
It is not always easy being a “reasonable” employer - after all dismissing Clarkson is going to cost the BBC a lot of money in lost revenue as the fate of Top Gear is decided. However, they had to take into account how they would have treated other employees in a similar situation because they would be setting a precedent and they have to be consistent. Would they dismiss someone else in similar circumstances? Almost certainly, yes. And so if they let Clarkson off with a lesser sanction how would they have been able to deal with future cases - particularly if they didn’t involve white, middle-aged men? Cries of discriminatory treatment would be heard throughout the land and it would cost them dearly in the Employment Tribunal.
Given the circumstances, there could have been no other fair outcome.
We are all responsible for our actions and we have choices. Unfortunately in this case Jeremy Clarkson made the wrong choice and is now suffering the consequences.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016