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Theft Accusation Pharmacist Fairly Dismissed

A Boots pharmacist whose career was destroyed when he was accused of stealing hundreds of perfume testers from the store he managed has failed to convince the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that he was unfairly dismissed.

The man had only just returned from a lengthy period of sick leave when he placed an order for the testers. A colleague said that he had seen him removing them from the store’s loading bay and placing them in the boot of his car. After the man came under suspicion, the samples reappeared in the store’s disabled toilet.

He denied being a thief but was dismissed for gross misconduct following an internal investigation. An Employment Tribunal (ET) later rejected his unfair dismissal claim after finding, on the balance of probabilities, that he was responsible for removing the large quantity of testers from the store.

In challenging that ruling, the man’s lawyers argued, amongst other things, that the ET had made a number of errors in its findings of fact and should have applied a higher standard of proof because his dismissal was potentially career-threatening.

However, dismissing his appeal, the EAT found that the man’s dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses open to the employer. His criticisms of the ET’s decision only ‘scratched the surface’ of the evidence against him and ‘did not begin to undermine’ the finding that his dismissal was fair.