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February 2020

January’s top 5 employment cases

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January’s top 5 employment cases:-


  1. Facilities assistant fired for excessive internet browsing at work was fairly dismissed, tribunal finds

A facilities assistant was fairly dismissed after an investigation revealed her level of non-business related internet use was “substantial”, an employment tribunal ruled.

A Liverpool tribunal found national law firm Weightmans was entitled to fire Mrs T Hall, a facilities assistant who worked for the company from February 1995 to January 2019, over her internet use while at work, which included online shopping. The tribunal dismissed the claim of unfair dismissal lodged by Hall, saying the investigation and dismissal procedure followed by Weightmans was “textbook”.

  1. Female driver relocated by manager who found her attractive awarded £74,000

A Nottingham employment tribunal ruled that Kim Beaney, a driver and trainee highway inspector, had been constructively unfairly dismissed following harassing behaviour by her manager and her supervisor.

The tribunal heard that Beaney’s line manager, Grant Bosence, was attracted to her, so deliberately placed her at a depot where his friend, Steven Curtis, was supervisor, so Curtis could “extol [Bosence’s] virtues as a potential romantic interest”. In doing so, Bosence reassigned Beaney from the depot she was originally allocated.

It found that Beaney was the victim of harassment and discrimination by her colleagues, which led to her resignation a few months into her employment.

  1. Retailer constructively unfairly dismissed disabled manager after failing to make reasonable adjustments

A disabled manager at a health food shop was constructively unfairly dismissed after the chain failed to provide her with additional support, a tribunal ruled.

The East London Employment Tribunal unanimously ruled that Holland & Barrett failed to make reasonable adjustments for Miss R Harkness after it did not increase staffing hours at her store to avoid the risk of Harkness working alone, and failed to provide her with mentoring support. Harkness had raised concerns about a medical condition that meant she might have to use the toilet without notice and its impact on her ability to work on the shop floor alone.

The tribunal found this failure to make reasonable adjustments directly resulted in Harkness’s resignation in June 2018, and so her resignation was considered constructive unfair dismissal.

  1. NHS worker asked if her pregnancy was planned was discriminated against, tribunal rules

A pregnant NHS administrator was discriminated against after her manager asked if her pregnancy was planned and if the cost of her maternity leave would come out of the team’s budget, a tribunal found.

A London tribunal ruled that the comments made to Haddi Camara, a temporary employee assigned to work for the East London NHS Foundation Trust, were “objectively inappropriate and upsetting” and “manifestly made because of the claimant’s pregnancy”.

The tribunal said the comments were likely made by her line manager in frustration, as she had been considering terminating Camara’s employment and saw the pregnancy as a barrier to doing this. However, the tribunal ruled Camara had been fairly dismissed because the reason for her dismissal was budgetary pressures.

  1. Oxford professor forced to retire at 69 wins age discrimination claim

An Oxford University professor forced to retire before his 70th birthday because of the university’s employer justified retirement age policy (EJRA) was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against, an employment tribunal ruled.

The Reading Employment Tribunal found that Oxford University acted unlawfully by dismissing Professor Paul Ewart, who was head of atomic and laser physics at Oxford’s Clarendon Laboratory, because of his age. At the time of his dismissal in September 2017, Ewart was 69.

The tribunal found the EJRA, introduced in 2011 in a bid to bring younger and more diverse staff into the university, had only created a “trivial” number of new opportunities and so forcing older staff to retire was not a “proportionate” method for achieving the policy’s stated aims.