Bus driver who became stranded in flood wins dismissal claim

A bus driver who was fired after driving his vehicle into a flooded area has won his claim of unfair dismissal.

Piotr Borowicki had worked for Bluebird Bus Ltd for eight years when the incident happened. He believed that he would be able to get through the flood, but he underestimated the depth of the water.

He became stranded in the middle of the road as the bus filled with water and began to float. There were no passengers on board and on the advice of the police, Mr Borowicki smashed a window to escape.

Bluebird dismissed Mr Borowicki for gross misconduct, saying that he should have had the foresight not to drive into the water.

Mr Borowicki brought a claim of unfair and wrongful dismissal. The Employment Tribunal ruled in his favour. It stated that a reasonable employer wouldn’t have characterised Mr Borowicki’s behaviour as “gross misconduct”.

It added that Bluebird had failed to provide Mr Borowicki with training or advice for a situation such as the one he encountered.

The ruling was upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Dismissing the company’s appeal, Lady Wise said: “The absence of proper training or advice to the claimant (Mr Borowicki) about how to respond in the situation he was faced with …were matters known to the respondent (Bluebird) at the time of the decision to dismiss… these facts also indicated against dismissal being a reasonable response.

“In short, the claimant’s conduct was, taking account of known mitigating circumstances, simply not a sufficient reason to dismiss had the decision been taken reasonably by a reasonable employer.”

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