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Postman Who Stuck Chewing Gum On Customer’s Gate Wins Unfair Dismissal

Postman who stuck chewing gum on customer’s gate wins unfair dismissal

A postman who stuck chewing gum on a customer’s gate has won his unfair dismissal claim and $A30,500 compensation.

An employment tribunal found the incident did not amount to gross misconduct, making the dismissal harsh, and therefore unfair.

The incident

Graham Harvey worked for the Royal Mail for more than 25-years working a rural route near Edinburgh in Scotland.

In October 2020, a customer made a formal complaint after Harvey stuck chewing gum on his gate.

CCTV footage captured the incident and showed Harvey remove the gum from his mouth and stick it on a gate lantern on the property.

The customer described Harvey’s behaviour as “disgusting”, however he said he and his wife did not want to make a fuss about it.

Disciplinary meeting

During a subsequent disciplinary meeting, management accused Harvey of defacing a customer’s property, in addition to driving without a seatbelt and leaving mail on the passenger seat of his van.

After initially denying the chewing gum incident, he later admitted that he did it “on two occasions at most”.

He described it as a “stupid decision” and offered to apologise to the customer.

Despite this, management decided to sack Harvey over the seatbelt, mail on the passenger seat and chewing gum incidents, which they concluded amounted to gross misconduct.

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Postman wins unfair dismissal

Harvey filed an unfair dismissal claim with the Employment Tribunal.

Judge Ronald Mackay found it is common practice for postmen and women to not wear a seatbelt while completing their route, as is leaving mail on the passenger seat.

He noted management had not expressed any concern to Harvey about this conduct during his 25-years of service.

“An employer who puts in place rules but chooses, with management approval, not to apply them over lengthy periods of time, cannot at the same time reasonably believe that a breach of those rules constitutes guilt of misconduct.”

As for the chewing gum incident, Judge Mackay found it was trivial and did not amount to gross serious misconduct.

He concluded the dismissal was harsh and therefore unfair.

He ordered the Royal Mail pay him $A30,500 compensation.

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