January’s top five employment law cases

4 Feb 2019 By PM Editorial

People Management runs down the most read tribunals of the last month

1. Postal worker was not unfairly dismissed after leave of absence and sick pay dispute

A postal worker was not unfairly dismissed, but “chose to resign on short notice” after a dispute that arose after he returned from a career break. 

On his return from a year’s career break, Mr J Wallace, a postal worker for Royal Mail, successfully raised a grievance over the new role he was allocated. He was then suspended and given a two-year suspended dismissal after a separate issue where he refused to cover for a driver who was unwell. 

After signing off with work-related stress and anxiety, Wallace did not attend meetings to discuss his condition or support he might need, leading his manager to raise concerns he was staying away from work in protest “against a perceived injustice”.

Wallace resigned after the business withdrew his sick pay, however Leeds Employment Tribunal ruled Royal Mail had the right to do so if certain defined conditions of the sick pay were not met.

2. Disabled worker awarded £45,000 after employer failed to install voice recognition software

A clerical worker suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis was awarded £45,000 for unfair dismissal, loss of earnings and damage to feelings after her employer failed to make the necessary adjustments for her to work.

Michelle Proctor, who worked for Yorkshire-based Haxby Group Practice, had repeatedly asked for voice recognition software to be installed on her computer to reduce the amount of typing she needed to do. The software was eventually installed, but only after two years in which Proctor took multiple periods of sick leave because of the pain in her hands. The Hull Employment Tribunal ruled Proctor had been subject to unlawful discrimination, “not least in the prolonged failure to make reasonable adjustments”.

3. Security guard was unfairly dismissed after submitting collective grievance letter

A hospital security officer was unfairly dismissed after lodging a grievance with his employer, Leeds Employment Tribunal has ruled. Mr M Brough, who worked for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as a full-time security officer, had raised and subsequently dropped a collective grievance about the state of management. 

The trust mounted an investigation and subsequently concluded that Brough’s complaint was in bad faith and dismissed him for gross misconduct. The tribunal ruled the dismissal was “outside the range of what was reasonable in terms of investigation, grounds for belief and procedure” and awarded Brough £10,990.

4. Lesbian employee ‘told to keep sexuality secret’ wins discrimination case

A lesbian employee who was told by her boss to keep her sexuality hidden has won a discrimination case against her former employer. Ashleigh McMahon, who worked as a quality control manager at Lancashire-based textiles firm Redwood TTM, keep her sexuality hidden for the eight months of her employment after her line manager told her “not to make it common knowledge that she was gay” because the owner of the business was ‘old school’ and the company did not have any other gay people working for it.

5. Hotel staff were entitled to statement of rights after first month of work, tribunal rules

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled three hotel employees were entitled to a statement of their employment conditions within their first month of work, in a finding legal experts said was “revolutionary” for sectors with a high turnover of staff. 

The three claimants were all employed as waiting staff by the Maritime Hotel in Portland, Dorset, part of Maritime Hotels Ltd, and all were dismissed when they objected to “persistent shortfalls in their wages, late payment and a falsification of their wage slips”.

The ruling, if upheld, could alter the existing understanding of how soon employees should receive formal notification of their rights, which stands at two months.

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