A former Citibank analyst, Mr. Fekete, was fired for gross misconduct after he submitted an expense claim that included meals for his partner. He had told a colleague that he would be taking his partner on the trip, but when he submitted his expenses claim, it was clear that he had claimed for meals for two people. He initially tried to explain away the receipts, but eventually admitted that he had lied.
Citibank investigated the matter and found that Fekete had breached the company’s expense management policy. He was invited to a disciplinary meeting, where he argued that he had been having personal difficulties and was on strong medication when he submitted the false expense claim. However, the company found that Fekete had deliberately lied and dismissed him for gross misconduct.
Fekete took Citibank to an employment tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal. However, the tribunal found that Citibank’s decision to dismiss him had been a proportionate response. The tribunal also found that Citibank had acted in a procedurally fair manner throughout the disciplinary process.
Lessons for employers:
Have a clear and concise expense management policy in place. The policy should clearly state what types of expenses are reimbursable and what types of expenses are not. It should also be clear who is eligible to claim expenses and how expenses should be submitted.
Investigate all allegations of expense fraud thoroughly. Employers should take all allegations of expense fraud seriously and investigate them thoroughly. This may involve interviewing employees, reviewing receipts, and conducting other forms of evidence gathering.
Be fair and consistent in disciplining employees for expense fraud. If an employee is found to have committed expense fraud, the employer should discipline them in a fair and consistent manner. The severity of the discipline should be proportionate to the seriousness of the offense.
Provide employees with the opportunity to explain themselves. Before disciplining an employee for expense fraud, the employer should give them the opportunity to explain themselves. This will help the employer to understand the circumstances of the offense and to determine the appropriate disciplinary response.
In the Fekete case, Citibank followed all of these steps. The company had a clear and concise expense management policy in place, and it investigated the allegations of expense fraud thoroughly. Citibank also gave Fekete the opportunity to explain himself before disciplining him. As a result, the employment tribunal found that Citibank’s decision to dismiss Fekete was fair and proportionate.
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