Burdett v Aviva Employment Services Ltd [2014] UKEAT 0439_13_1411

Paranoid schizophrenic unfairly dismissed for sexual assault

In Burdett v Aviva, Mr Burdett, a paranoid schizophrenic, sexually attacked female colleagues after he had stopped taking his medication. His employer, Aviva dismissed him for gross misconduct. A tribunal found that it was a fair dismissal but did not engage with the issue of blameworthiness: whether Mr Burdett had wilfully or grossly negligently committed the acts (See Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust v Westwood UKEAT/0032/09). On the facts in this case, this was an error of law.

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