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Dismissal of nurse for lewd remark was unfair

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the dismissal of a nurse for making a lewd remark was unfair.

The court heard that the nurse made a sexual comment while helping to restrain a patient. A complaint was made six weeks later and she was summarily dismissed by her NHS Trust.

An employment tribunal held that although the comment could be described as lewd, most people would consider it merely humorous. It held that the nurse had been unfairly dismissed.

That decision has now been upheld by the Appeal Court. It held that while the remark was misguided and inappropriate, it was only intended to amuse.

It was also relevant that no member of the public was present at the time and there was no evidence that the patient was aware of the remark. It was also significant that neither the doctor nor the nurse in charge had admonished her at the time of the incident or reported her conduct.

The Trust had been entitled to take disciplinary action but summary dismissal was wholly unreasonable in the circumstances.

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