A DHL Services HGV driver has won his claim of unfair dismissal after he was sacked following a fight in a van with another employee.

An employment tribunal found that there had been a number of flaws in the company’s process and subsequent decision to dismiss Alexandru Milea after the incident occurred on 17 January 2022.

The HGV driver had driven a co-worker, referred to as AT, to a meeting with managers in Enfield to discuss the latter’s decision to resign from his role in Gatwick.

On the return journey in the company van, a disagreement between the two workers began, with AT spitting in Milea’s face, forcing him to pull over onto the hard shoulder in order for the driver to clean his glasses.

The situation escalated back at the Gatwick depot, with AT throwing punches at Milea and placing him in a headlock.

The police were called and AT was taken into custody although no further action was taken.

Milea was then suspended and following an investigation, DHL informed him he was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

In a letter, the driver was told: “I am satisfied that both you and your colleague had a part to play in the events that unfolded on the 17th of January 2022 and that accountability sits with both parties.

“Your colleague has stated that you entered his personal space with a view to removing him from the vehicle, which escalated to a point where you were engaged in a headlock.

“Your colleague had stated you had pushed forward with your head towards them, you continued to push forward in order to reach for the door handle and eject your colleague from the van. Direct physical contact between two colleagues under these circumstances is not acceptable.”

Milea then appealed and in his decision, judge Krepski said DHL’s disciplinary hearing officer, Nicola Hack, “seemingly ascribes equal blame to both parties and does not state who instigated this portion of the incident.

“I find that it is crucial to determine who started this particular physical altercation, since the claimant was saying that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack.”

He concluded: “I find that the claimant was unfairly dismissed by the respondent.”

The judge granted a basic award to Milea of £1,998.50 and compensatory award of £2,594.88.