Unfair Dismissal

Disciplinary process and double jeopardy

It was not unfair to dismiss an employee after reopening a previously concluded disciplinary process that had led to a final written warning.

COVID-19: dismissal for refusal to return to work

An employee dismissed for leaving work and refusing to return because of COVID-19-related concerns was not automatically unfairly dismissed.

Internal appeals and 'vanishing' dismissals

A successful appeal against a dismissal will automatically result in reinstatement back into employment unless the employee objectively and unequivocally withdraws their appeal against dismissal before the appeal is decided. This remains the case even where the employee expressly says to the appeal decision maker that they do not want to return to work.

Dismissal for failure to disclose bankruptcy

An employee was fairly dismissed for failing to disclose his bankruptcy, despite the absence of an express contractual requirement or policy requiring him to do so.

Constructive dismissal and the fundamental breach

A fundamental breach of contract can be established even where the employer’s actions do not indicate an intention to end the employment relationship.

Reasonable adjustments and fairness of dismissal

A failure to make reasonable adjustments as part of a dismissal process doesn’t mean that the dismissal itself is necessarily unfair.

Voluntary redundancy and unfair dismissal

An employee who requests voluntary redundancy does not necessarily have no reasonable prospects of success in a claim for unfair dismissal.

COVID-19: dismissal for refusal to be vaccinated

The dismissal of a care home employee for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was fair.

COVID-19: raising health and safety concerns

An employee was unfairly dismissed after raising health and safety concerns about working during lockdown.

Raising grievances and impact on the fairness of dismissal

An employee’s dismissal for using a grievance process in a frivolous and vexatious manner was fair.

COVID-19: automatic unfair dismissal and refusal to allow homeworking

An employee had not been automatically unfairly dismissed because of her employer’s refusal to allow her to work from home during the pandemic. Her belief that there were circumstances of serious and imminent danger was not objectively reasonable given that her employer had assessed the risks and addressed the need for increased levels of hygiene and social distancing.

Dismissal for breach of anti-corruption policy

The dismissal of an employee was fair because he’d acted in ‘wilful disregard’ of an anti-corruption policy, even though he’d not deliberately intended to breach the policy and had no corrupt intent.

Asserting breach of a statutory right: when does the claim crystalise?

An employee can bring a claim for automatic unfair dismissal if they are instructed to infringe their statutory rights, even if the infringement has not actually occurred.

Reasonableness of warnings

A tribunal did not need to ‘look behind’ a final written warning to consider its fairness.

Privilege and unfair dismissal

An email between an employer and its HR consultant was protected by litigation privilege despite indicating a pre-determined decision to dismiss.

Dismissal, lack of appeal and fairness

Where a dismissal is because of an irretrievable breakdown in the employer/employee relationship, the failure to offer/carry out an appeal post-dismissal will not always render a dismissal unfair.

Dismissal and medical evidence

Up to date medical evidence is vital when defending the fairness of an ill-health capability dismissal, although only if it’s obtained before a dismissal.

Criminal offences and unfair dismissal

An employee was fairly dismissed for some other substantial reason when he was charged with a criminal offence but never prosecuted.

COVID-19: dismissal of employee stuck abroad

The dismissal of an employee who remained abroad at the start of the pandemic was automatically unfair on health and safety grounds.

Constructive dismissal and harassment

Departing from previous authority, the EAT has held that a constructive dismissal can amount to harassment under the Equality Act.

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