As has been reported in the Daily Mail, The Sun and Wales Online, a former employee of McDonalds is suing the company for unfair dismissal after she was sacked for putting “excessive amounts” of chocolate on a workmate’s McFlurry.

Sarah Finch, 19, had worked for the McDonalds in Cardiff for more than 18 months when the incident occurred. She was asked by one of her workmates to make a McFlurry for them, with the workmate asking her to “make it a nice one”. As a result of this request she put more chocolate on the McFlurry than she would normally do. Her line manager was informed of her doing this and disciplined her. This disciplinary eventually resulted in Ms Finch being dismissed for gross misconduct.

Ms Finch, who was described as an “exceptional employee” prior to being dismissed, subsequently issued a claim for unfair dismissal against her former employer, Lonetree – a franchisee of McDonalds. The basis of her claim is that the decision to dismiss her was not a reasonable one as should a customer have made the same request the management at the restaurant would not have commented upon this. It was therefore unreasonable for them to have summarily dismissed her for granting the same request to a colleague.

Mr Mounsey, franchisee and managing director of Lonetree, has defended his decision to sack Ms Finch for gross misconduct, claiming in a letter to Ms Finch’s mother that his managers acted correctly and according to his policies and that the act was classified as gross misconduct in the employee handbook. He therefore supported his manager’s decision to dismiss.

In order to make out her claim for unfair dismissal Ms Finch will have to show that the dismissal was procedurally and/or substantively unfair. To demonstrate that the decision to dismiss was procedurally unfair she would have to show that there was some procedural irregularity with the dismissal, such as a failure to hold an impartial investigation or a prejudging of the outcome of the disciplinary (among others). To demonstrate that the dismissal was substantively unfair Ms Finch would have to show that her dismissal was not based on an honest or genuine belief in her guilt or that the decision to dismiss was unreasonable as it wasn’t based on a fair and reasonably thorough investigation.

What should you do if you’re accused of stealing from work?

If you’re accused of stealing from work then you should ask for full details of the allegations of your employer. You should comply with the investigation and disciplinary process and you should make notes of anything that you think has been unfair about the process. If you’ve been dismissed then you should appeal your dismissal (using this disciplinary appeal letter, if you wish) and if you think it would be appropriate you should file a formal grievance about how your investigation and/or disciplinary process has been handled (using this grievance letter template, if you wish).

Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. They use expert unfair dismissal solicitors to provide employment law advice and Employment Tribunal representation.

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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