Chef who bit cops awarded £11k for unfair dismissal
An employment tribunal has ruled that Vista Hotels did not follow procedure when dismissing a chef who bit two police officers and spat blood at them.
James Harvey, who was head chef at the four-star Fermain Valley Hotel in Guernsey, was awarded £11,000 after the tribunal ruled his dismissal for “gross misconduct” was unfair.
Mr Harvey, 37, was dismissed in the aftermath of a violent incident in staff accommodation, which saw police summoned to attend an altercation between Mr Harvey and his girlfriend.
He assaulted one of the police officers and a special constable with his teeth, breaking one officer’s finger by biting it and then chewing the other officer’s leg. A court in Guernsey heard that he spat blood at the two policemen and had to be restrained with his own t-shirt.
The drunken attack saw Mr Harvey jailed for 18 months for grievous bodily harm. He was notified of his dismissal six months after his arrest.
However, the employer is said to have failed to follow correct procedure in doing so.
The tribunal said that the “complete absence of a disciplinary process with no right of appeal did not fall within the band of reasonable responses open to an employer in justifying the fairness of a summary dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct for a first disciplinary offence”.
Tim Coates, Vista’s commercial director, told The Times that the verdict was “ridiculous”.
Mr Coates said: “He was convicted of a crime that included multiple accounts of GBH and assault of local police, hotel staff, damage to property, resisting arrest and bringing the company into disrepute.
“The level of award seems to reward the individual for gross misconduct. Although we failed on a technical breach, the individual committed gross misconduct under any normal circumstance.
“Common sense really should have been used. The tribunal needs to assess what constitutes gross misconduct.”