Northamptonshire pilot whose boss threw a cup of tea at him in an argument wins unfair dismissal case

The tribunal was told that the incident occurred in a hanger at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire where Mr Jones had been employed as a good flying instructor since 2006.
The tribunal was told that the incident occurred in a hanger at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire where Mr Jones had been employed as a good flying instructor since 2006.

An aircraft instructor who avoided being hit by a cup of tea flying towards him after calling his boss a four letter word has been awarded more than £18,000 for unfair dismissal.

A claim for costs by instructor Phil Jones of Flore, Northamptonshire, was rejected by Cambridge Employment Tribunal judge George Sigsworth.

The hearing took place earlier this summer and Judge Sigsworth issued an undated report on Tuesday, August 21.

The tribunal was told that the incident occurred in a hanger at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire where Mr Jones had been employed as a “good flying instructor” since 2006.

Judge Sigsworth decided that Mr Jones had been unfairly and wrongfully dismissed because the respondents, Fly Light Air Sports Ltd, failed to carry out a fair dismissal procedure.

Mr Jones had made legal claims for breach of contract and notice pay against his former employers who had sacked him for gross misconduct after calling director Mr Ben Ashman a rude word.

The tribunal was told that Mr Jones asked Mr Ashman to ensure that the November Delta aircraft he normally flew had a 50 hour service. When he discovered this had not been done Mr Jones was alleged to have made a sarcastic remark and Mr Ashman allegedly told him to “get off his back”.

Mr Jones then accused Mr Ashman of shouting at him, which the director denied.

Mr Jones was accused at one stage of threatening Mr Ashman.

Judge Sigsworth said he accepted the evidence of an independent witness who heard the argument continuing with Mr Ashman responding at being called the rude word by Mr Jones.

Following a clash between the two men, Mr Ashman who was carrying a cup of tea, threw it towards the claimant, although it missed him..

“That was an aggressive act from a director towards an employee,” said the judge.

“This led to an inappropriate response from the claimant to a director, or indeed to anyone.”

An investigation later took place and Mr Jones complained he was eventually sacked for gross misconduct.

Judge Sigsworth said that Mr Jones had been involved in serious insubordination by calling Mr Ashman the rude word and by threating to hit him but the dismissal procedure had been unfair.

“If a fair dismissal procedure had been followed by the respondents then there was a five per cent chance that the claimant would have been dismissed anyway,” said the Judge.

“As a result the claimant contributed to his dismissal by 50 per cent.”

The Judge awarded Mr Jones £18,210 after the 50 per cent reduction.