Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bus driver fired after leaving passengers to get hot drink from cafe

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London bus driver was fired after leaving his passengers to grab a hot drink – and later running through a red light.

Ian Brown took his employer Arriva London North to tribunal for unfair dismissal after the incidents. But employment judges rejected the case in a ruling published on Tuesday.

The tribunal heard how Mr Brown, who drove the 243, arrived late to take over the bus on March 13, 2020 while leaving it unsecured on the stand with passengers inside because he “went to the café to use the toilet and collect a hot drink.”

The driver, who had several cautions throughout his five years at the company including for lateness and “abusive language”, left seven minutes later than he was due to.

CCTV from the bus showed him then reading a letter he had been sent inviting him to a disciplinary meeting while the bus was in motion.

Seconds later, he also jumped a red light, despite it turning from amber to red three seconds before the bus reached the stop line. He denied that he was reading the letter at the time and said he felt had passed the point of “no return” with the red light.

The tribunal heard that when Mr Brown was confronted about the lateness, he said: “It is against my contract. I’m not driving this bus for the rest of the day”.

When told this would be a “self suspension”, he said: “I’m not suspending myself, you are bullying me and I’m not fit to drive. You can collect the bus from Seven Sisters.”

After the self-suspension, a disciplinary meeting in August dismissed him for unsatisfactory attendance over a rolling 12 month period, and poor driving standards in March.

The driver’s appeals against the dismissal were rejected in October, leading him to take the bus company to tribunal alleging unfairness in the dismissal process.

However, Employment Judge Rebecca Tuck ruled: “I am satisfied that dismissal was within the range of reasonable responses.

“In any event, I would have been satisfied that any procedural defects would have made no difference to the final outcome.”

Separate claims of breach of contract and unlawful deduction from wages were also thrown out.

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