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A truck driver has lost his case for unfair dismissal after being fired in May 2020 for refusing to wear a mask in his cab at a Tate & Lyle sugar refinery.

According to the employment tribunal notes, managers at the sugar refinery site were worried about the possibility of the lorry driver transmitting the virus while speaking out of the window. Therefore, they repeatedly asked the HGV driver to put on a mask according to the on-site regulations. However, the trucker ignored the request.

The driver agreed to wear a mask when outside of his lorry, but his contract with his employer was nonetheless terminated due to his refusal to comply with Tate & Lyle’s request.

The trucker then launched a legal bid to sue his past employer for unfair dismissal.

At a court appearance last week, the driver said he didn’t comply with the request because “my cab is my home”. He also said there was no legal requirement that forced him to do so.

However, the judge ruling on the case said that the driver’s “continued insistence that he had done nothing wrong caused [Kent Foods, his employer] to reasonably lose confidence in his future conduct.”

The judge then went on to deliver the final verdict as follows:

A further relevant factor was that it was not feasible for the Claimant to continue in his contractual role due to the T&L site ban. The site ban was a consequence of the Claimant’s conduct on 23 May 2020. Taking into account the relevant circumstances, including Claimant’s lack of remorse and the practical difficulties caused by the T&L site ban, I conclude that the Respondent’s decision to dismiss fell within the range of reasonable responses. Therefore, the Claimant’s dismissal was fair.

The full records regarding the trial can be found on the UK Government website here.

Photo credit: Kleon3 / Wikimedia Commons


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