Case Study

Victories for employers accused of wrongful dismissal

It is important to act quickly and tactfully where allegations of wrongful dismissal are brought against an employer. We provide the right strategy in order achieve a desirable solution.

Recent case successes for employers -wrongful dismissal.

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Claim by employee after dismissal for dishonesty

We acted for the owners of a bar who had dismissed a bartender for dishonesty. He had been pouring drinks for staff after hours without proper payment and had brought in unauthorised bottles of spirits to make up the losses.

We became involved after the initial claim for wrongful dismissal, when he appealed against that decision. The dismissal decision had not been handled with a fair procedure, giving him a potential unfair dismissal claim. We advised the employer throughout the appeal procedure, ensuring that it was demonstrably fair at all stages. After the appeal confirmed the dismissal, the employee brought claims for wrongful dismissal and unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.

We defended the claim, using evidence from other staff members and CCTV evidence. The Tribunal accepted that dismissal was reasonable and found that while the initial dismissal decision had been procedurally unfair, this had been cured by the appeal procedure which had followed all the right steps and made the dismissal fair overall. The employees claims were dismissed.

Housekeeper’s claim for constructive dismissal

Our clients were high net worth overseas nationals who kept a house in London for their use when visiting. They had had a housekeeper for many years who lived in the house, and looked after it in their absence. She left suddenly with no notice while they were away. They subsequently received an Employment Tribunal claim alleging constructive dismissal, for alleged bad treatment over a period, with further allegations of paying below minimum wage.

We advised seeking a settlement on a purely commercial basis. However the employee tried to in effect blackmail the employers. She threatened to report them to HMRC for failure to pay PAYE and national insurance contributions over many years. To avoid the blackmail, the clients self-reported to HMRC.

We then strongly defended the claim leading towards a hearing, with evidence showing that many of the employee’s allegations were clearly untrue. Faced with our threat to claim costs against her, the employee agreed to withdraw the claim before hearing.

We then negotiated with HMRC to agree payment for the underpaid PAYE and national insurance, on the very advantageous basis of a substantial reduction in tax with no penalties or interest. The clients therefore paid much less than if they had properly operated PAYE and national insurance throughout.

Employee claiming dismissal on grounds of disability

Our client had an employee whose initial fixed term was coming to an end. The employee had not been a particularly good performer and the employer decided not to continue the employment after the end of the fixed term. Because the employment was less than 2 years, the employee could not bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim.

Before the employment ended, and before the employer had told the employee that her contract would not be renewed, the employee resigned and claimed constructive dismissal based on her treatment which she alleged was a consequence of her disability. She suffered from a psychiatric condition which some of her colleagues knew about, but senior management did not.

She was represented by trade union solicitors who put a claim forward seeking a substantial sum in compensation. We rejected the claim, not only on the grounds that there had in fact been no discrimination, but also because the managers whom she alleged had discriminated against her did not know about her disability. If they did not know, then the disability could not have been the reason for their actions.

Trade union solicitors will usually only support a case where they believe there is a 51% chance of success. Following our strong response, no claim was in fact issued. It would have been clear from our response that the claim would be defended and would probably fail, so the trade union did not back it and the employee did not pursue it.

Alex Kleanthous

A highly experienced, tactically astute yet practical litigation lawyer, Alex has 30 years experience in resolving disputes.

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