In Jenny Dodds v WRVS the Carlisle Tribunal has rejected a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. The employee resigned claiming her boss was bullying her. The Tribunal disagreed saying that at worst he was unreasonable and this didn't amount to a breach of her employment contract. To one person behaviour can appear to be firm management, to another it can feel like harassment.
The Nottingham Employment Tribunal has rejected a claim of sexual orientation discrimination in Ben Stokes v Chief Constable of Nottingham. The facts of the case as reported by the Pink News do make it quite suprising that the employee lost and he will be lodging an appeal. Hopefully the Pink News will correct their reference to a "gay sating agency"..... a slightly more accurate description of Gaydar than " gay dating agency".
A good news day for employers today - first up is the case of Robert Surtees v Apache North Sea where a Tribunal dismissed a claim of unfair dismissal. The employee took a 2 hour break from his nightshift claiming he was unwell. He worked on an oil-rig and was mechanical technician. Even though he had been there 27 years and this was his first offence the Tribunal said that it was gross misconduct given the importance of his health and safety duties. Most imporantly they said that although they might not have made that decision themselves the employer was entitled to make that decision. This is the "band of reasonable responses" test beloved of employment lawyers acting for employers. A lenient employer might have just given him a final written warning given his length of service. The counter-argument would be that someone with long service should know better than to skive off work for 2 hours.
The case of Helen Green v Deutsche Bank was not an Employment Tribunal claim - but a High Court case for psychiatric injury caused by harassment by work colleagues. It is important though as Tribunal's can award damages for psychiatric injury in discrimination cases (where there is no limit on compensation.) This was not a sex discrimination case as the main perpetrators of the harassment were all women.... She was awarded £35,000 for pain and suffering, £25,000 for her disadvantage in the labour market, £128,000 for lost earnings and £640,000 for future loss of earnings and pension.
In Halima Aziz v Crown Prosecution Service the Court of Appeal has restored a tribunal decision (taken after a 9 day hearing) that the CPS racially discriminated against one of its own solicitors. The facts are quite ridiculous. Ms Aziz, a Muslim, walked into court and a security officer said to her that she was a security risk. Rather than taking offence at this astonishing comment she treated it as a joke and replied by saying that she was a friend of Osama Bin Laden's. She was suspended for making offensive comments. The original tribunal decided that the CPS would not have suspended a white solicitor for making the same comment. For rather more facts Halifax Today's report is quite good.
Trinity Mirror's North Wales operation has published an article that might send shivers down the spine on lawyers or trade unionists representing public sector workers. The upshot is that the District Auditor has ruled that a pay off to a senior employee in advance of a Tribunal hearing was unlawful because the people about whom the Tribunal related were the ones taking the decision whether to spend taxpayers money on settling the claims brought about by their actions. It is not clear from the report if the £40+k settlement is being recovered from the ex-employee. If it is then some compromise agreements might not be as final as everyone thinks.
In Susan Rowley v Scottish Borders Council a female teacher seeking promotion was awarded £21,000 for unlawful sex discrimination when she was turned down for a promotion in favour of a less-qualified man. The tribunal found that the school had diluted the person spec to favour the winning man. He did not have the experience or qualifications directly related to the post. Foolishly other candidates for the post had been told that Susan Rowley's qualifications and experience were of no use to her. So if you are going to be stupid, keep quiet about it..... Of the £21,000 awarded £5000 was for injury to feelings. Unless you read the Daily Record where she was only awarded £16,000 of which £5000 was for injury to feelings. The award was high because the losing teacher quit the profession as she was so appalled by the way she had been treated.
The Scotsman reports the quite delightful case of Tracey Gray v Fisher & Donaldson Bakery. The employee was a shop assistant who had failed to ring through a Pavlova meringue on the till. Unfortunately it had been bought by two store detectives. Before she had a chance to correct her error the boss walked in and took her out the back to accuse her of theft. She was sacked. For this gross overreaction she was awarded £5700 for unfair dismissal. This is a reminder that just because someone has done something wrong does not mean it's so wrong that dismissal is justified.