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Court: Employment Appeal Tribunal

Vicar’s appeal that dismissal was discriminatory as based on the breakdown of his marriage, dismissed

Jonathan Gould v St John’s Downshire Hill UKEAT/0002/20/BA

The vicar of an evangelical Christian church, who was dismissed in August 2016, alleged that his dismissal was because of the breakdown of his marriage and that his dismissal amounted to marriage discrimination and was unfair. The Employment Tribunal found, on the evidence, that the reason for dismissal was a loss of trust and confidence in him.

Held: although the Claimant’s discrimination claim might have succeeded if the decision to dismiss him had been significantly influenced by a belief that a minister cannot continue to serve if their marriage breaks down, or if they would not have been dismissed in the same circumstances had they not been married, the Employment Tribunal had been entitled to find as a fact that this was not what had happened. As a matter of law, therefore, this was not a case of marriage discrimination. The appeal against the finding that the dismissal was fair was premised on there being an error of law in relation to the discrimination claim and it therefore also failed.

Employment Appeal Tribunal delivers judgment in matter concerning redunancy consultations and suitable alternative employment

Gwynedd Council v Shelley Barratt & Ioan Hughes UKEAT/0206/18/VP

The President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal has handed down judgment in the case of Gwynedd Council v Shelley Barratt & Ioan Hughes UKEAT/0206/18/VP. The appeal concerned the reorganisation of primary and secondary education provision within the Gwynedd area in 2017, which resulted in the dismissal of a number of teachers including the two Respondents to the appeal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the appeal by Gwynedd Council. It held that the Employment Tribunal had been entitled to find that the use of a competitive interview process to determine which of the teachers should be given jobs at the newly created schools, and the absence of any consultation with the teachers, rendered their dismissals unfair. These were fundamental and profound failures by an employer, and the Employment Tribunal did not act err in determining that it would not be appropriate to make any Polkey deduction in the circumstances.

Employment Tribunal dismisses application for interim relief

Headley v. Sensyne Health and Drayson

In this case the Employment Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s application for interim relief following a remote hearing on 22 and 23 April.

The Claimant was employed as Chief Financial Officer at Sensyne Health, an AIM-listed data and tech business in the healthcare sector.  He was dismissed on 2 March 2020.  He has brought claims of whistleblowing unfair dismissal (ERA, s.103A) and whistleblowing victimisation (ERA, s.47B).  He claims to have made 10 protected disclosures between 2019-2020, many of them to or about Sensyne’s CEO, Lord Drayson, the Second Respondent.

The Claimant applied for interim relief within 7 days of his dismissal.  The Tribunal (EJ Alliott, sitting at Watford) dismissed the application.  It held that the Claimant was not likely to demonstrate that he had made relevant protected disclosures and he was not likely to show that the reason for dismissal was that he had made any such disclosures. 

Lord Drayson also succeeded in an application for costs arising out of the Claimant’s unreasonable attempt to prevent him from being represented at the hearing.

EAT gives guidance on when parties might be permitted to make an audio recording of proceedings

Heal v The Chancellor, Master and Scholars of the University of Oxford & Ors UKEAT/0070/19/DA

The claimant indicated that he had a disability in his ET1 and requested some adjustments including permission to use a recording device as he said his conditions made it difficult for him to take contemporaneous notes. The employment tribunal indicated that the application should be at a Preliminary Hearing. The claimant appealed on the grounds […]

EAT dismisses appeal, holding that ‘absence of financial means’ justifies indirect discrimination

Heskett v Secretary of State for Justice [2019] UKEAT/0149/18

This appeal considered the changes made by the respondent to the rate at which certain Probation Officers progressed up an incremental salary scale, the effect of which was that progression to the top of the scale would take many years longer than previously.
The Tribunal below had held that the policy change was discriminatory, in that it favoured employees aged over 50. However, it held that this was justified. This was because the case was not a ‘cost alone’ case, which case law has established is not a legitimate aim capable of justifying discrimination. Rather, the Tribunal held that it was a legitimate aim for a company to seek to break even year on year and decide its resource allocation.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed that the Tribunal had correctly identified the key questions before it and weighed the relevant factors in the balance. As such the appeal was dismissed.