Sunday, 5 December 2010

Moving goalposts: dismissed for e-cigarette use at work

Remember this story?

The bus driver who was dismissed for gross misconduct (e-cigarette use at the bus turnaround) has contributed to this thread, which first reported the incident.

She quotes the exact terms of the letter of dismissal ('using your electronic cigarette while sitting in your cab'), and those of the original letter notifying drivers of the rule restricting e-cigarette use ('you must not use this instrument while driving').

On the face of it (and assuming we have all the relevant facts), the bus company has no grounds for complaining of misconduct. The 'wilful failure to carry out a reasonable and lawful instruction' does not apply as she did not disobey the instruction: she was not driving.

Even had she been guilty of smoking a real cigarette in these circumstances she wouldn't have been endangering the public (even though she would have been in breach of the law). I struggle with the idea that this can be characterised as gross misconduct, meriting dismissal as gross misconduct without warnings.

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