Nursery 'fabricated' allegations about employee drinking at work

A nursery school assistant has won an unfair dismissal case after her employer fabricated allegations against her. The Employment Tribunal found that her dismissal, based on accusations of drinking alcohol at work and neglecting her duties, lacked convincing evidence. 

The Employment Tribunal has ruled that a nursery school assistant was unfairly dismissed after her employer fabricated allegations against her. The tribunal heard that Millie Davey worked at Eilmar Montessori School and Day Nursery between August and September 2018 until her dismissal in October 2021. She was promoted to senior nursery practitioner during her employment and was described as a valued staff member. However, she was dismissed following allegations about her drinking alcohol while at work and failing to carry out her duties properly.

On 15 October, Davey had a meeting with the director of the nursery, Rajan Luthra, who accused her of being under the influence of alcohol. The meeting notes claimed that Davey had made false claims on the nursery school app, advised staff to make false claims to Ofsted, and made inappropriate comments in front of children. Davey disputed these allegations, stating that she had not made such claims about approaching Ofsted but had expressed concerns about the nursery's lack of personal protective equipment. 

Employment judge Andrew Clarke concluded that Luthra had failed to provide convincing evidence to support the allegations against Davey. He found Davey's account of the meeting on 15 October to be more credible, as she accurately recalled the details while Luthra seemed to be embellishing his account. Judge Clarke also noted inconsistencies in the handwriting of certain documents, raising suspicions about their authenticity. 

The tribunal concluded that the nursery had fabricated the allegations about drinking to help justify Davey's dismissal. The judge criticised the lack of adherence to the Acas code, stating that the employer did not establish the facts, failed to inform the employee properly and neglected to conduct a thorough investigation. Davey was awarded £5,325 in compensation, including a 25% uplift due to the nursery’s failure to comply with the Acas code.

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