Sainsburys Employee Sacked for Wearing Headphones was Unfairly Dismissed

Sainsburys Employee Sacked for Wearing Headphones was Unfairly Dismissed

  • Date: Wednesday 20th December 2017
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An employment tribunal has found that an employee working in a supermarket delivery yard was unfairly dismissed for wearing headphones.  Despite working in a high risk and hazardous area where deliveries were unloaded from articulated lorries, the employer had not made it clear to employees that wearing head phones was prohibited.  The employee was observed on two occasions to be wearing head phones, although he denied having music playing. His employer believed that this put him at risk and that his misconduct was deemed so serious as to merit dismissal.

The employee had a long service and clear disciplinary record. He appealed against his dismissal and brought claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal.

The tribunal judge found that Sainsbury’s decision to treat the incident seriously was reasonable, but that the Company failed to:

1. Outline that wearing headphones was a breach of health & safety rules.

2. Inform staff of the disciplinary consequences of wearing headphones.

Learning for employers

  • Clearly state and communicate health & safety rules.
  • State the consequences of a breach of health & safety rules.
  • Behaviour deemed gross misconduct should be stated as such in the disciplinary policy.
  • Give consideration to an employee’s length of service and previous disciplinary record when determining a disciplinary sanction. 

More details on this case can be found at:


Source: Gavin Parrott, SSG

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