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Piegate – did roly poly goalie deserve the sack?

Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson

The recent furore surrounding Sutton United reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw has thrown up a few employment law considerations which should be taken into account when dealing with similar conduct from an employee. ELAS employment law consultant Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson takes a look:

In the case of Wayne Shaw, he was caught on camera during Sutton’s FA Cup fifth round match against Arsenal eating a pie on the substitute bench. Following the match it became apparent that a bookmaker had given odds on this happening, and this triggered an investigation from both the Gambling Commission and the Football Association.

Since the story broke in the news Mr Shaw offered his resignation to Sutton United who accepted the offer immediately. It has also been discovered since the match the Mr Shaw was aware of the betting promotion and that the company offering the promotion had paid out a five figure sum. Sutton United manager Paul Doswell said that the incident had reflected badly on the club and did not make them look professional.

Whilst it is difficult to become implicated with the Gambling Commission during regular employment this case still shows that it’s important to take appropriate action against an employee who has, or is likely to, damage the reputation of your business in order to show that you do not tolerate the behaviour demonstrated. Damaging the reputation of a business can be considered as gross misconduct and, as such, it is important to act appropriately should you receive reports or evidence that one of your employees could have done so.

It is vital that an investigation is carried out promptly with the employee in question to establish their story. You should complete a thorough investigation before considering disciplinary action and from there decide upon an appropriate outcome, which could include dismissal. Mr Shaw admitted that he had known about the bet. As a business, if you are able to show you have acted proportionately and properly in response to an employee damaging your reputation it will go a long way to mitigating the potential damage to your reputation.”

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