Hard on the heels of the suggestion in my post on 24 August that dismissal for carelessness would only be fair if it related to matters of life or limb come two cases suggesting another justification – simple but overwhelming stupidity. These cases tread the difficult area between the underlying principles of fairness on the one hand and the employer’s absolute imperative to be rid of the employee on the other. How about these two?
First, not a matter of life but certainly one of limb – the BBC reports on the dismissal of two employees of private security firm G4S for attaching an electronic tag to a man’s false leg, so allowing him to remove it and break a Court-imposed curfew. This is the latest in a series of unhappy headlines for G4S, which in fact changed its name from Group 4 Security following a number of high-profile escapes when it first took over privatised security transport duties from the Police. The security operatives in question were apparently fooled by a bandage wrapped round the leg and did not “adhere to the correct procedures”. Had they done so, they would have identified his leg as false, said G4S, begging a number of questions perhaps best left unanswered as to what those leg-checking procedures actually were. We do however have some comfort in G4S’ assurance that “incidents like this are very rare”. Indeed so.
Second, reported last week in commuter paper The Metro and elsewhere, welcome to the wonderful world of Benedict Garrett. A humble secondary school teacher by day, Mr Garrett “led a double life as a porn star and a stripper”, a General Teaching Council disciplinary hearing was told. Pupils at the Beal High School in Essex have apparently looked at their erstwhile Head of Personal Social Health Education in a whole new light since discovering a link on Facebook to his prominent part in a porn movie trailer. In the circumstances, mention need hardly be made of Mr Garrett’s own website where he “poses provocatively in a fireman’s uniform and bondage gear”, and topless with a (very small, what can I say?) gun.
Despite successfully contesting the application to strike him off the GTC’s national teaching register, Mr Garrett has been realistic enough to admit that “the evidence against me is pretty compelling if you believe that pornography is wrong”. Not a proviso which detained the GTC too long, we think, as it found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. Mr Garrett resigned from the School in March with effect from the end of the academic year but was nonetheless suspended, one hopes with the right equipment, when his secret life became clear. Now that would have been a disciplinary meeting with a difference!
PS. An unrepentant Mr Garrett later said without apparent irony that some of his former students now saw him as a role model “because I’m standing up for what I believe in”.