Business Law & Compliance
Pie stunt by Sutton's Wayne Shaw raises concern over how staff can damage brand
3 min read
28 February 2017
If you had a bet on reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw eating pie during the FA Cup’s Sutton v Arsenal match then you may have won a hefty sum. He did exactly that – but the incident led to a few employment law queries, and his resignation.
While Sutton managed to give Arsenal a few scares, the team lost 2-0. But the club’s defeat isn’t the only thing to have made it onto headlines. Reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw handed in his resignation over some pie – no, the situation isn’t as humorous as it sounds.
After the match it became apparent that a gambling company had given odds on this happening, and this triggered an investigation from both the Gambling Commission and the Football Association. More importantly, Wayne Shaw made no effort in hiding the fact he had been aware of it.
According to the Gambling Commission’s intelligence director, Richard Watson: “Integrity in sport is not a joke. As part of the investigation we’ll also be looking at any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its license requirement to conduct its business with integrity.”
Integrity is key in this story. Manager Paul Doswell claimed the incident had reflected badly on the club and so did not hesitate when Wayne Shaw ended his “employment” with Sutton. This situation would have been no different were it in the business world – and as such it has once again raised the concern of employment law and brand reputation.
Of this, ELAS employment law consultant Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson, made a valid point. “Whilst it is difficult to become implicated with the Gambling Commission during regular employment this case still shows that it’s important to take appropriate action against an employee who has, or is likely to, damage the reputation of your business in order to show that you do not tolerate the behaviour demonstrated.
“Damaging the reputation of a business can be considered as gross misconduct and, as such, it is important to act appropriately should you receive reports or evidence that one of your employees could have done so.
“It is vital that an investigation is carried out promptly with the employee in question to establish their story. You should complete a thorough investigation before considering disciplinary action and from there decide upon an appropriate outcome, which could include dismissal. Wayne Shaw admitted that he had known about the bet.
“As a business, if you are able to show you have acted proportionately and properly in response to an employee damaging your reputation it will go a long way to mitigating the potential damage to your reputation.”