Employer entitled to act on information available
In Eioyaccu v Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the EAT held that where an employer has concerns about an employee’s mental health, medical opinion should be sought, but if an employee refuses to undergo a medical assessment, the employer is entitled to act on the facts available.
Mr Eioyaccu was a Police Community Support Officer. A Council complained that Mr Eioyaccu had introduced himself as a police officer to a staff member, stated that aliens were beaming messages into the heads of residents via satellite dishes and asked for the dishes to be removed. This was followed by staff in two retail stores complaining that Mr Eioyaccu had acted in a vulgar and sleazy manner. While suspended, Mr Eioyaccu refused to attend an occupational health referral. During an investigation he denied all the allegations. He said that he suspected there was some sort of secret society, linked to stonemasons, meeting in the Covent Garden area. He was dismissed for gross misconduct.
A tribunal found Mr Eioyaccu’s dismissal to be unfair. In its view, the Metropolitan Police failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain his state of mind at the time of the alleged misconduct. The EAT disagreed. The tribunal had fallen into the trap of deciding what it would have done. The Police had considered Mr Eioyaccu’s mental health but did not have the benefit of a medical opinion as he had refused to undergo a psychological evaluation. In the absence of any satisfactory explanation for Mr Eioyaccu’s behaviour, the Police were entitled to act on the only information available to them and to dismiss him for gross misconduct.
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