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Why Can’t I be a Porn Star in my Free Time?

An employee who secretly moonlighted as a porn star has successfully claimed unfair dismissal. But her employer would probably have won the case if it hadn’t made one big mistake...

By day, Kathleen Malloy worked as an administrative assistant for Liverpool Community Health Trust (NHS). However this was not her only job. In her spare time she sometimes starred in porn movies and offered "adult baby minding services". Her alternative employment was brought to the attention of the trust by another colleague who threatened to go to the press unless she was dismissed. She was suspended, but was signed off sick soon after. While on sick leave she was given an ultimatum to "resign by 5pm or be sacked." She was dismissed and brought a claim to the tribunal for £90,000.

The tribunal was unimpressed that she was offered this ultimatum and that no disciplinary procedure had been carried out and agreed that she had been unfairly dismissed. However they also took Ms Malloy’s actions into account and concluded that had she been through a proper disciplinary process she would have been dismissed for bringing the employer into disrepute. She was awarded just under £2,000.

The employer made a few mistakes: by not following a disciplinary process, the dismissal was automatically unfair; they should not have tried to force a resignation from her and they should have warned the employee who was threatening to go to the press that they would face disciplinary action for breaching confidentiality if they did so.

This case highlights that however bad an employee’s actions are perceived to be and, even if it is certain that a disciplinary outcome would be dismissal, a fair procedure must always be followed.

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