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Unfair Dismissal: Anonymous Witness

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Was it outside the range of reasonable responses to dismiss someone in reliance on the evidence of an anonymous witness?

Not in the circumstances, held the EAT in Tai Tarian v Christie.

The Respondent (R) is a housing association, who employed the Claimant (C) as a carpenter. C was dismissed after a tenant (T) alleged that C had made homophobic comments to her. T was interviewed by two managers, but requested anonymity and was not interviewed by the decision-making managers. The tribunal concluded that the dismissal was unfair as it was outside the range of reasonable responses for R to rely on an anonymous account and fail to take other steps to ensure C had a fair hearing.

The EAT held that the tribunal's findings on the question of fairness were unsafe. Referring to the guidance given in Linfood Cash and Carry v Thomson, it concluded that the tribunal had not met the test of demonstrating any good reason (or "logical and substantial grounds") for its conclusion that R could not have reasonably accepted T's evidence as truthful.

Additionally, the tribunal erred in concluding that T had refused to give further evidence given that she had only been asked once (at the appeal stage) and declined due to personal circumstances.

Thanks to Paul Livingston of Outer Temple Chambers for preparing this case summary.