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Employment Tribunals Resulting From Incidents at Christmas Parties

9:01, 17/12/2021

Home » News & Knowledge » Employment Tribunals Resulting From Incidents at Christmas Parties

With the current Omicron variant of COVID-19 impacting planned Christmas parties all over the country (but possibly not No. 10 Downing Street), it steals my chance to write my usual Grinch-worthy piece of content on the potential Employment Law issues that can arise from a boozy Xmas party.

 

So, this year I thought I would have a tongue in cheek review of genuine former Employment Tribunal claims that arose from incidents at Christmas parties.

 

Incidents at Christmas Parties

 

  • An employee was dismissed for her conduct whilst at the Christmas party and this included racially and sexually offensive language and harassing a male colleague. The dismissal was held to be fair (Cordiner v Virgin Media Ltd)
  • Two employees had a fist fight at a Christmas party and a case was taken forward to Tribunal when the two were given different sanctions for the same offence. One was dismissed and one was given a final written warning (Westlake v ZSL London Zoo)
  • An employee was dismissed for punching a colleague whilst they were walking home from their work Christmas party. The Tribunal held that although this took place after the party had ended it was sufficiently closely connected to work and therefore held the dismissal was fair (Gimson v Display By Design)
  • An employee was seen at the Christmas party kissing a colleague and thereafter going into a hotel room with him. A few weeks later, the employee informed the managing director that she was pregnant. This news led to gossip and speculation around the office as to who was the baby’s father. The employee eventually resigned and claimed constructive dismissal against her employer (Nixon v Ross Coates Solicitors)
  • At the work Christmas party, a manager (who had been drinking alcohol) promised an employee that within two years to raise the employee’s salary to the same level as another employee. This would have amounted to a doubling salary for the employee in question. The increase did not happen and the employee filed a breach of contract claim. It was held that the ‘promise’ at the Christmas party did not amount to a variation of contract and was not intended to create a contractual commitment.

 

As you can probably see from the above, there are definite trends that lead that a fun and frivolous party to the jurisdiction of an Employment Tribunal – the two key elements being alcohol and physical violence!

I shall take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  If you are having a Christmas party – try to ensure the current government guidance is followed so everyone can have a safe time.

 

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Meet the author

Ian is a solicitor and qualified in February 2009. He specialises in and deals exclusively with Employment law. Ian has a unique skillset that allows him to provide commercial and pragmatic advice,…

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