Unfair Dismissal for Various Reasons - Case Study

18th October 2016

By Senior Employment Lawyer Sylvia Chan

This case involved unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal, refusal of flexible working request, indirect sex discrimination and breach of contract.

Client Situation

Our client was employed for more than 12 years as a manager in a childcare organisation. She worked full time so she was able to be present during the opening and closing times. However, due to a change in her childcare arrangements she had to take over the school run. Therefore she could no longer work the hours she did previously.

Our client asked her employer whether she could change her working pattern to enable her to drop off her children during school times. She had numerous discussions with her employer about making a formal flexible working request and various alternatives were discussed.

Her employer offered our client an alternative role in a different branch and our client asked whether a job share arrangement was possible. Unfortunately, none of these alternatives were suitable and she was told that if she did not accept an alternative she would lose her job.

Our client was unable to accept the alternative role in the other branch as it was too far away and she would lose money in travel costs. The employer did not wish to consider a job share arrangement that our client proposed. The employer insisted that she had to be present during opening and closing hours which were 7am and 7pm.

The employer dismissed our client and paid her half her notice pay.

How We Helped

Employment Lawyer Sylvia Chan started Early Conciliation through ACAS on behalf of our client but the employer had no interest in settling the claim because their defence was that there was no dismissal. They claimed that she had resigned.

Sylvia wrote to the employer asking for written reasons for dismissal and they responded stating that they thought she had resigned. The employer kept denying there was a dismissal so Sylvia had no choice but to issue the claim in the Employment Tribunal.

Sylvia assisted our client in drafting her Employment Tribunal claim for:

  • Ordinary unfair dismissal as we considered the letters she received to be dismissal letters
  • Automatic unfair dismissal for dismissing her as she proposed to assert her statutory right to make a flexible working request
  • Breach of contract (wrongful dismissal) for paying only half her notice pay as she was entitled to the full 12 weeks’ notice due to her length of service
  • Indirect sex discrimination for applying a policy which placed our client at a disadvantage as the main carer for her children
  • The employer’s failure to comply with the right to flexible working.

The case was listed for a Preliminary Hearing which our client attended with the Barrister we instructed to represent her. The Employment Tribunal set directions to manage the case to hearing. The case was listed for 4 days hearing.

Sylvia drafted the Schedule of Loss which was ordered by the Employment Tribunal. This is a document showing the compensation she was looking for and had calculations for the Tribunal to see how we came to the figures. As this included a Workplace Discrimination Claim there was an injury to feelings award which we sought to claim for our client.

Sylvia arranged for a conference with our client and the Barrister as part of preparation for the case. Sylvia also made an application to amend the claim which was successful. In our application we had to make it clear that the proposal to make a flexible working request may have led to her dismissal (automatic unfair dismissal claim).

Sylvia assisted with the disclosure of documents, one of the Employment Tribunal’s directions, and made further attempts to settle the case.

The Outcome

Before starting to draft witness statements Sylvia successfully negotiated a Settlement Agreement. The employer made an offer of £7,000 which Sylvia rejected and negotiated a considerable increase.

Sylvia settled the case for £12,000 which was £5,000 more than the employer originally offered. Our client was very happy with the result, she also obtained a reference to help her in finding a new job which Sylvia arranged as part of the Settlement Agreement negotiations.

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