Carlsberg director fired after holding party at brewery during lockdown

A Carlsberg director was sacked after holding a party at the brewery – because it violated lockdown rules, an employment tribunal has heard. Martin Entwistle invites eight friends to the taproom for a beer in the summer of 2020, despite strict COVID rules being enforced due to a ‘weak’ member of staff.

The hearing was told that after dinner and drinking he gave his friends a late night ‘guided tour’ of the London brewery and it got down to a ‘bright, boozy horse race’. His actions were caught on CCTV and as a result he was told that his behavior was ‘indecent’ of a Managing Director and he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Mr Entwistle, who now runs the online retailer All About the Bear, put the applicable rules on an email as “nothing else” but “guidelines”, claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract against Carlsberg. had gone. But an employment tribunal has now dismissed their claims – saying the rules were ‘clear and unmistakable’ mandatory rules and not voluntary guidance.

The Tribunal heard that Mr Entwistle acted as managing director of the London Field Brewery (LFB) of the Danish brewing company Carlsberg and the tap room in Hackney, north London. It was bought by Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company in 2017 for a reported £4m, and was shut down in December last year.

Hearing in Cambridge was reported that on 6 August 2020 Mr Entwistle hosted eight friends before giving them a private, ‘guided tour’ for ‘drinks and dinners’ at the brewery. In the light of the COVID 19 pandemic, the company had introduced measures to reduce the risk of on-site infection.

The tribunal also heard that in preparation for the withdrawal of a ‘vulnerable’ female member – who was simply named ‘K’ – the company had detailed additional rules in an email sent to all employees. The ‘compulsory directives’ implemented in June included ‘no one’ was allowed to enter the brewery area ‘unless there is an emergency’.

Added rules: “This includes when the brew team is not at work, and should generally be so.” The party hosted by Mr Entwistle was caught on the site’s CCTV.

The tribunal noted that it showed no one was wearing a face mask, and that ‘at least one’ of the party engaged in a ‘bright, alcohol-fueled horseshoe’ at the brewery. After the party, several employees expressed concerns about their managing director’s conduct, and a disciplinary investigation began.

The investigation found Mr Entwistle displayed ‘ignorance’ of social distancing guidelines and had ‘failed to control the behaviour’ of his friends. But despite admitting that he had ‘not set a good example’, Mr Entwistle disagreed that his conduct was ‘indecent’ to lead the LFB operation.

The tribunal also heard that they had challenged the ‘validity’ of the COVID measures sent in an earlier email, arguing that they were mere ‘guidance and nothing else’. Mr Entwistle tried to ‘justify’ his admission to the brewery by saying that he knew vulnerable staff member ‘K’ – who had been shielding for three months before his return – would be at work for the next four days. will not be.

In September 2020 he was sacked for an ‘extremely irresponsible’ act of gross misconduct, and said he had made a ‘very serious error of judgement’. Mr Entwistle appealed the decision, arguing that it was ‘wrong’ to take a group to the brewery, but that it did not pose ‘any danger or risk to any staff or visitors’.

His appeal was dismissed and he brought claims of unfair dismissal and breach of contract to an employment tribunal. However, Employment Judge Claude Ford dismissed their claims and concluded that the covid rules regarding the brewery were ‘uncertain’ mandatory rules.

Judge Ford said: “I think the information has been set out in [June] The emails contained rules that were clear and unambiguous in terms of their intent and purpose. Night workers at the LFB for whom Mr. Entwistle was responsible were concerned and worried by his actions; Such that he raised his concerns with those who manage him.

“I consider Mr. Entwistle’s actions in the brewery and in the following days to be a clear and substantial breach of the contract of employment. His decision to violate the rule regarding unauthorized entry into the brewery, his Failure to regard the health and safety of their fellow employees and their attempts to rationalize their action after the incident are all serious matters.

“In other words, his actions – as I have identified personally and cumulatively – amount to gross misconduct.”

The London Fields Brewery was shut down by Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company in December last year after it decided to sell the brand.

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