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Postman wins unfair dismissal case over public urination

Image: Mikecphoto / Shutterstock

A postman has won an unfair dismissal case after being sacked by the Royal Mail for urinating in public.

In a reserve judgment made early in 2020 employment judge Skehan at Watford tribunal found that the real reason behind Mr Rawal’s sacking was his union activities and poor relationship with his line manager Simon Maddy.

Mr Rawal also claimed for race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 but this was unsuccessful and dismissed.

In the remedy judgment from September last year but published this week, Mr Rawal – who had worked for Royal Mail since 2000 with a clean disciplinary record – was awarded £37,720 after a hearings were told that other postal workers who had been seen to urinate in public places had not been fired and that postal workers often had little option but to urinate in a public place.

Mr Rawal was dismissed from Royal Mail’s Watford depot for gross misconduct in 2017 because he had been filmed by a member of the public in September of that year relieving himself in a lay-by having parked his delivery van there. A complaint was made to Mr Rawal’s employer stating: “’It was really upsetting seeing someone doing that on the street, especially someone from a big, famous and professional company as Royal Mail.”

One postman told the hearing: “There was not a post person alive, man or woman, who had not been caught short and had to urinate in public.”

Mr Rawal, who was a health and safety officer for the CWU union, told the hearing that he was involved on behalf of the trade union in the planning of drivers’ collection routes and the testing of the routes and that such union activities brought him into conflict with Maddy.

The tribunal heard a recording of a discussion of Mr Rawal’s case by Royal Mail employees in which it was said: “Just sack him. I can’t be bothered with it. It’s boring, all this stuff. Just tell him, look, he done it. We know he done it. Just sack him.”

But another manager said: “To be fair, right, he probably has got a good grievance case … grounds for a good grievance case against Simon [Maddy].”

At this meeting, the tribunal heard, it was suggested that Mr Rawal could be provoked into a violent response by calling him a paedophile. The judge considered whether this “was a comment that was consciously or unconsciously connected to the claimant’s race and or ethnic origin” but decided that no “adverse inferences of discriminatory behaviour in relation to race discrimination may be fairly drawn” from the comments.

Mr Rawal named at least 12 colleagues who had also urinated in public and not been fired – with some doing so in people’s gardens. The tribunal was told of at least two cases where the culprits had been caught by customers urinating on their property and had not been fired.

Postman Adam Hicks told the hearing that urination in public places by postmen happened routinely. He said: “Due to the nature of their job and the lack of facilities that there are instances where postman who are desperately bursting to go to the toilet, we have no option but to urinate while on duty.”

Judge Skehan concluded: “Mr Rawal has shown that a significant number of his colleagues who were not office-based have at one point or another within long careers have been caught short and urinated in a public place. This is not an uncommon matter that [Royal Mail] must deal with.

The £37,720.98 was made up of a basic award of £8,068.50 and a compensatory award of £29,652.48.

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