Michelin-starred restaurant manager loses unfair dismissal claim after pocketing customer’s £200 bill

Makbool Javaid, partner – Simons Muirhead & Burton

October 24, 2022

In the case of Mr G Palmer-Brown v DTSN Limited as Fordwich Arms The general manager of a Michelin-starred restaurant was sacked after a cash-paid dinner and he was caught on CCTV pocketing it and throwing the bill away, a court has heard. Guy Palmer-Brown, 35, had accepted payment of £200 from a regular, wealthy customer who was well known for paying cash, the hearing heard.

After another member of staff highlighted a surprisingly small amount of cash from that night in the till, acclaimed owner and chef Daniel Smith viewed CCTV footage from that night. The court heard that Mr Smith, named Observer Young Chef of the Year in 2016, was shocked to see Mr Palmer-Brown collect payment from the customer, walk to the end of the bar, count the money before handing it over. put in his pocket, then throw the bill in the trash.

The hearing was also told that later Mr Palmer-Brown even returned to the restaurant, when he felt suspicious, turned off the CCTV cameras and attempted to return the money. Mr. Smith suspended him and, following an internal investigation, he was fired.

Mr. Palmer-Brown appealed the dismissal. When this was rejected by Ms Smith, he took legal action, alleging unfair dismissal and that he had been terminated before the internal investigation had taken place.

Labor judge John Bertram Pritchard ruled against those claims in court, held at arm’s length, saying it had been reasonable to fire him and that Mr Smith and Ms Smith had treated him fairly. He said: “The Tribunal is satisfied that Mr. Smith and Ms. Smith honestly believed in the misconduct of the claimant, based on reasonable grounds after as many inquiries as are reasonable in the circumstances.

“[Mr Palmer-Brown] held a position of trust and was part of senior management. The dismissal decision for the dishonesty shown [Mr Palmer-Brown] was well within the range of reasonable answers.

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