When a Manager Loses It

Fast and fair action is the key to avoiding claims of constructive dismissal, where employees feel they’ve been unjustly targeted by a manager.

That’s the outcome of a case that’s just been decided after a kitchen worker took the pub group Spirit to an employment tribunal at the end of a stormy employment history.

The case hinged around Mr Assamoi, who had already been moved on within the chain because of bad working relations, but still had difficulties in dealing with his new manager.  Matters came to a head in December 2009 when he was suspended pending an investigation into allegations made by his boss.

Luckily for the Spirit Group, the investigation was carried out quickly by two other managers from different pubs in the group, who concluded that the allegations were unfounded.  A return to work meeting was held and Mr Assamoi was offered three choices: to sign a new contract and continue working at the same place, to move to a different pub, or to resign.  But he refused to sign the contract and resigned, claiming constructive dismissal.

When the case reached the Employment Appeal Tribunal, they upheld the decision of the Tribunal which had found that although Mr Assamoi’s pub manager had damaged the relationship of trust between employer and employee by his actions, the relationship had been restored by the quick and fair action of the other investigating managers.

Employment law expert  David Hetherington  of Grant Saw Solicitors in Greenwich said:  “Constructive dismissal is where an employee resigns because the actions of the employer either alter the contract between them fundamentally in a way that is unacceptable to the employee, or where they make it impossible for the employee to continue working because the relationship of trust has been destroyed. A previous case involving Bournemouth University established that once that relationship has been destroyed, there is nothing the employer can do to remedy the situation, and the employee will have a valid case for unfair dismissal.

“This case does not alter that principle, but it’s encouraging for employers because it shows that another manager can remedy a situation if they are fast and fair, even when a line manager has behaved high-handedly.”

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.