Security worker unfairly sacked over town hall death

A judge ruled no ‘reasonable employer’ would have sacked him over the tragedy

By Victoria Munro

Waltham Forest Town Hall

A CCTV worker sacked after a tragic death outside Waltham Forest Town Hall has won a legal battle against his former employer.

Narayan Acharya worked for council-owned maintenance company Waltham Forest Services Ltd for 13 years and had “an exemplary work record” until his dismissal in 2021.

The company claimed it sacked Narayan for neglecting his duties in the early hours of 21st March that year after a man was found unresponsive outside the town hall shortly before 6am and later died.

Narayan, who was monitoring the town hall CCTV that night, had spotted the man drinking from a bottle at around 2am but failed to inform the security guard on shift after deciding “he did not appear unwell, drunk or suspicious”.

Following an employment tribunal in November, judge Frances Allen found that “no reasonable employer” would have sacked Narayan over the man’s death.

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In his written decision, published on 16th January, he noted that the town hall grounds are open to the public at all hours and there was no agreed procedure on people drinking at night, unless they were also behaving antisocially. 

He wrote: “[Narayan’s] position is that he followed the correct procedure and CCTV operatives only report to the security guard if there is anti-social behaviour. The man did not appear to be displaying overt anti-social behaviour. 

“None of the other employees interviewed as part of the investigation[…] make any reference to a known procedure when a person enters the town hall complex during the night and appears to be drinking.”

Employment judge Allen also did not accept that Narayan was obliged to check on the man, writing that “there was simply no evidence of this ever happening” previously with other drinkers.

Narayan is now entitled to compensation from the council-owned company for “unfair dismissal” and the amount will be agreed at a further hearing on 3rd April.

Following the incident, in September 2021, policy at the town hall was changed to ensure “special attention” is paid to anyone drinking on the grounds at night.

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