Case law updates

Failure to follow grievance procedure contributes to successful constructive dismissal claim

A charity manager was unfairly dismissed after she said she was ‘demoted’ when her role and responsibilities were shared with a colleague, a tribunal has found.

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that a Care Attendant Scheme unfairly dismissed an employee following a change in her job role, and later made unfair deductions from her wages. The sequence of events leading to the resignation of Mary Gifford from the Scottish charity amounted to a contractual breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

The Tribunal heard that Gifford had not been given any forewarning of a change in job role, that she had not been consulted in principle or in detail on the proposal. She had not therefore been prepared to address the issue in the initial meeting and subsequently raised a formal grievance. This was rejected by the employer without following their own internal grievance procedure, stating that it was “not for a member of staff to dictate how a board should conduct its business”. Her appeal was also rejected.

The Tribunal praised Gifford for her “moderate, reserved and convincing… evidence” and agreed that the sequence of events entitled Gifford to resign. It concluded that on both procedural and substantive grounds, the dismissal was unfair.