Sweden: Deliberately withholding Vital Information during Security Screenings is Grounds for Dismissal
The Swedish Labour Court ruled that the Swedish Police Authority had legal grounds for the summary dismissal of a police officer, who withheld information regarding his contacts and association with individuals connected to a criminal network.
A police officer underwent security screenings in 2015 and 2019 to assess whether he could be granted security clearance for security-classed employment. The police officer got the necessary security clearance in 2015, but his clearance was withdrawn in 2019 when the Police Authority became aware of his contacts and association with criminal individuals and the criminal network Bandidos. According to the Police Authority, the police officer had, during the security screenings, deliberately withheld information about his contacts and association with Bandidos and, consequently, the police officer was summarily dismissed by the Police Authority. The police officer denied that he had deliberately withheld any information and claimed that there were no grounds for the summary dismissal.
The Labour Court stated that, regardless of the results of the security screenings, the Police Authority had to prove the circumstances for the assessment that the police officer could not be deemed eligible for security-classed employment. The Court further stated that employment as police officer or any security-classified employment requires loyalty and reliability from the employee. The Court found that the police officer had consistently toned down his relations with the criminal network and had not informed the Police Authority of any of his contacts until he realised that the Police Authority had information that he could not deny. The Court concluded that the police officer must have realised that the withheld information had been vital for the Police Authority and for the security screenings. His actions had seriously damaged the employer’s trust in him and had also entailed a risk for the public’s trust in him and the Police Authority to be negatively affected. As such, the Court ruled that the police officer had violated his obligations to the state and that there were legal grounds for the summary dismissal.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
An employee who is deliberately withholding vital information from their employer during security or background screenings can, under certain circumstances, provide legal grounds for both a dismissal and/or a summary dismissal.