Lorry driver sacked after refusing to wear mask inside his cab

A delivery driver who was sacked for refusing to wear a face mask inside his cab during the pandemic was dismissed fairly, a judge has ruled. Deimantas Kubilius, who was based at Kent Foods’ Basildon site, was dismissed following the incident in May last year. He has now lost a subsequent legal battle against the dismissal.

The tribunal heard how the driver had ignored requests for him to put on a mask in the cab of his HGV when he arrived to make a delivery at a Tate and Lyle sugar refinery in London. Tate and Lyle had introduced rules about wearing masks as part of the first Covid-19 lockdown. Mr Kubilius was given a face mask when he arrived at the site but refused to put it on despite two staff making requests.

He told his bosses “my cab is my home” and said the law did not require him to wear a mask in his cab. He said he was happy to wear one outside of the lorry. Tate and Lyle banned Mr Kubilius from returning to the site.

Attempts by Kent Foods to have this rescinded failed and Mr Kubilius appeared before a disciplinary hearing. Read more: The decision was taken to dismiss the driver as bosses found his “deliberate refusal to comply with a health and safety instruction was a serious breach.”

Mr Kubilius subsequently brought a case for unfair dismissal against Kent Foods. But employment Judge Barrett has now dismissed the case. Kent Foods in Basildon where the driver was based. Picture: Google maps

The ruling said: “The claimant is a details-oriented person who believed he was following the written site instructions. “He was surprised by the instruction, and dug his heels in. “As [Scott Liddle, Commercial Director] said, everyone was operating under a level of stress as keyworkers required to work during the coronavirus lockdown.”

Judge Barrett said Mr Kubilius’ “continued insistence that he had done nothing wrong” had caused his employers to “reasonably lose confidence in the claimant’s future conduct.”

The ruling added: “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.”