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June’s top five employment law cases

2 Jul 2019 By PM Editorial

People Management takes a look at the five most read tribunals of last month

1. Railway worker who lowered crossing barrier onto car was not unfairly dismissed

A railway crossing keeper was fairly sacked after he admitted bumping a car with a crossing barrier to “teach its driver a lesson”, a south London employment tribunal (ET) ruled.  

Mr A McKay worked for Network Rail as a crossing keeper from May 2005 until he was dismissed on 12 January 2018 following allegations of gross misconduct after the incident involving a car he felt had failed to respect warning alarms.

McKay brought claims of unfair dismissal to the ET, however Judge Katherine Andrews ruled in favour of Network Rail, saying it had reasonable grounds to dismiss McKay and carried out a fair investigation.

2. Supermarket worker unfairly dismissed over inappropriate messages to 17-year-old colleague

A supermarket worker was unfairly dismissed after managers carried out a flawed investigation into ‘inappropriate’ messages he sent to a 17-year-old colleague, a Scottish tribunal has ruled. 

The Dundee tribunal said various Tesco managers failed to carry out a fair investigation into comments the 39-year-old worker made towards a younger co-worker on Facebook, as well as a subsequent comment made in person. The judge said the outcome of the disciplinary had been tainted after one manager decided the claimant was “some sort of sexual predator” ahead of meetings.

3. Manager guilty of discrimination after raising concerns about employee’s English abilities

A Transport for London (TfL) employee has won a discrimination and victimisation claim after he was told by his manager that he had been excluded from taking part in training and conference calls because English was not his first language. 

The London South tribunal ruled Mr A Khawaja, a Pakistani man employed by TfL as a tunnel traffic coordinator on the tube network, had been treated less favourably by his manager because of his race when it came to the allocation of training opportunities in the form of conference calls and ‘huddles’.

The tribunal unanimously ruled Khawaja had been the victim of direct discrimination, victimisation and unauthorised deduction of wages.

4. Dyslexic helpline worker was unfairly dismissed after spelling errors denied him new role

A dyslexic helpline worker was unfairly dismissed after his employer refused to allow him to move to a role answering queries via a new instant messaging platform, a Sheffield tribunal ruled.

James Bulloss, who worked as an adviser for homelessness charity Shelter, was reassigned roles and moved back to telephone-only work after his manager flagged a series of spelling and grammatical errors in his webchats with service users during a trial period in the team. 

However, the ET said that just because Bulloss’s job description included answering queries via both webchat and telephone, it should not mean a disabled employee wishing to undertake webchat work should be denied reasonable adjustments and instead be moved to telephone-only work. It ruled that Bulloss had been unfairly dismissed, discriminated against due to his disability, and harassed by his former employer and awarded him £28,324.

5. Crematorium worker wins discrimination claim after manager’s offensive comments about Muslims

A crematorium worker has been awarded £6,846 in compensation for religious discrimination and harassment after a colleague said white people “wouldn’t want to be buried next to a Muslim”.

Lehla Aboulossoud, who worked as an administrative officer at Eltham Crematorium in south east London, lodged a complaint after a manager made a number of offensive remarks about Muslims.

A London South ET ruled that the subsequent investigation gave no thought to issues of religious harassment or discrimination, focusing solely on whether the offensive remarks were targetted at Aboulossoud, and failed to recognise “the fact of religious associative discrimination and harassment and the impact of this on the claimant”. While the ET decided the comments were not aimed at Aboulossoud, they still met the criteria for harassment and discrimination.

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