In Punjab National Bank (International) Limited and others v Gosain UKEAT/0003/14, the EAT held that covert recordings of public and private conversations by an employee at disciplinary and grievance meetings were admissible in evidence and could be considered by the Tribunal when it came to determining the case at full hearing.
Ms Gosain was employed by Punjab National Bank (“the Bank”) from May 2011 until her resignation in January 2013. Prior to her resignation, Ms Gosain attended grievance and disciplinary meetings and recorded both public and private discussions connected with those meetings. It is alleged that during a break in her grievance meeting, the bank’s managing director gave an instruction to dismiss Ms Gosain. The manager hearing the grievance said he was deliberately skipping key issues raised in Ms Gosain’s grievance letter (namely, that she was not being allowed a proper lunch break and concerns around her pregnancy) and that the manager had in a break used sexually offensive language to describe Ms Gosain.
Ms Gosain brought claims against her employer alleging sexual harassment, sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal, referring to her covert recordings as evidence of discriminatory conduct. The bank, however, sought to argue that the recordings were private conversations and were inadmissible.
The court held that they were admissible. The court held that the “comments which are alleged to have been recorded, if said, fall well outside the area of legitimate consideration of the matters [to be determined] by the grievance and disciplinary panels respectively and that there was no public policy reason why the comments should be protected.”
This case serves a reminder about the care to be taken by employers when carrying out disciplinary and grievance hearings and to take care in what they say during and after these meetings. With modern technology as it is, it is very easy to record meetings with ease and without knowledge of an employer.
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