Unfair dismissal: Whose knowledge is the tribunal concerned with?
In July last year we reported the case of Royal Mail Group Limited v Jhuti in which, having made a protected disclosure to her line manager, Ms Jhuti was dismissed due to capability following deliberate misleading of the investigating manager by the same line manager because of the disclosure. Ms Jhuti claimed unfair dismissal, which was rejected by the tribunal but on appeal, the EAT found in favour of the claimant on the basis that just because the HR department was ignorant of the full facts, the original line manager who had had the full facts had manipulated the decision and given his position, that responsibility fell on the employer, and therefore she had been unfairly dismissed.
Royal Mail appealed to the Court of Appeal, who reversed the decision. Their reasoning was that when determining the reason for dismissal it was only the decision maker (as the employer for that purpose) whose mental processes in relation to the decision to dismiss that should be considered by the tribunal. An unfair dismissal case requires the employer to have acted unfairly. The Court pointed out that unfair conduct, such as the manipulation of the facts here, did not matter, unless it could be properly attributed to the employer. As it could not, the claim for unfair dismissal was not proved, though it remains to be seen whether Ms Jhuti proceeds with a compensation claim for dismissal due to unlawful detriment.
Published: 29 October 2017