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Employee unfairly dismissed for sexual assault due to employer's breakdown in communication

A 43 year old male employee was dismissed for sexually assaulting a 26 year old female colleague in a pub, after work, when both were drunk. He denied the assault although he did not have a clear memory of what had occurred.

A police officer viewed the CCTV footage and identified some inconsistencies and discrepancies in the female’s account. She decided to withdraw the allegations saying that she did not realise it would be so “griefy” and had felt pressurised by her employer and the investigating officer.

The decision maker took into account that the female had been to the police and considered that a factor to support her version of events. However, although the investigating officer was aware that the allegations had been withdrawn, they did not communicate this to the decision maker and this made the dismissal unfair. Where material facts come to light after the investigation has been concluded, there was an obligation to share this with the decision maker.

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