Making a splash: Can a van driver be dismissed for soaking pedestrians?

 I regularly get asked: “how far does employment law go?” It seems an odd question to ask but I understand that most employers simply mean: “can you investigate nearly every type of poor behaviour” to which my answer is normally “yes!”

There has been a widely reported news story this week that largely explains my usual response. Namely, this concerns the story of a van driver who was immediately dismissed for driving through puddles and intentionally soaking pedestrians in Ottawa, Canada.

As with many situations involving professional drivers, the misconduct was caught via the dashcam of another vehicle. In this case, the vehicle in front had a ‘bootcam’ recording events behind the vehicle which recorded a 40 second clip of the van driver in question intentionally swerving into large puddles (which he could have easily and safely avoided) in order to soak three pedestrians in a row. As evidence goes, there is practically no other reasonable interpretation for the video (which remains available online). Naturally, the video was quickly viewed by nearly 1 million people and the matter was also referred to the Canadian Police. The employer concerned quickly announced that the individual had been dismissed and, in turn, the Police praised the employer for acting decisively and announced that they wouldn’t take any further action further to the loss of employment.

Now, obviously, the above-mentioned events occurred in Canada, so the real question is whether the same thing would happen over here, particularly given that employment law rights are viewed as being more favourable to employees on this side of the pond.

liability to former employees

Most employers know that there is no general legal requirement to give a reference for an ex-employee. Most also know that if they do give one, they may face problems if it is misleading or wrong and the ex-employee cannot get another job as a result. The High Court has recently taken this further. It…

reporting of accidents etc. at work and elsewhere

In June 2010 the Prime Minister appointed Lord Young of Graffham to review health and safety laws and the growth of the compensation culture. Lord Young’s report “Common Sense Common Safety”, was published in October. One of the recommendations was that the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations should be amended to extend…

sex discrimination – speculation can be taken into account

Even leading law firms can get it wrong. What do employers do if they have to make redundancies and one of the candidates has been absent on maternity leave? That gave rise to a dilemma for national solicitors’ firm Eversheds. They have lost a legal battle but it is possible that they will win the…

Yet more on what constitutes a “philosophical belief” in the context of discrimination

I have written on numerous occasions about the sometimes odd and unexpected practical applications of the Religion and Belief Regulations (now incorporated within the Equality Act). This month has seen another and some would say rather tenuous interpretation of what constitutes a protected philosophical belief. Mr Devan Maistry worked for the BBC and presented complaints…