Employment tribunal was wrong to strike out a claim for unfair dismissal on the basis that it had no reasonable prospect of success because the claimant had requested redundancy

John Cook

In White v HC-One Oval Ltd [2022] EAT 56, the EAT held that the employment tribunal was wrong to determine that a claim for unfair dismissal had no reasonable prospect of success because the employee had volunteered for redundancy.

In September 2018, care home operator HC-One Oval Ltd announced it was reducing the number of employees carrying out reception and administrative work. Ms White was provisionally selected for redundancy. Subsequently, she requested voluntary redundancy, which was accepted.

After termination of her employment, Ms White submitted a claim for unfair dismissal. She alleged that:
– In July 2018, she had raised a grievance about having to cover the duties of an absent colleague as well as her own, without extra pay.

– During the redundancy process, an administrative role had become available. This should have been offered to her but was not.

– The outcome of the redundancy process was that a receptionist recruited just before it began, who had no childcare responsibilities, had been offered a full-time role while the two part-time receptionists had been dismissed. The process had been manufactured to achieve this.

For these reasons, Ms White argued that the redundancy process was not genuine and that she had been targeted for dismissal. The employer disputed Ms White’s allegations. It contended that she had been fairly dismissed for redundancy at her own request and therefore that her claim should be struck out because it had no reasonable prospect of success.

The employment tribunal struck out the claim.

The employment appeals tribunal found there was an error of law so the case was remitted for a full merits hearing. It said a claim should not be struck out where the central facts are in dispute. In the present case, the employment tribunal assumed that the factual dispute between the parties could not be relevant to the issues to be determined on the claimant’s complaint of unfair dismissal but that demonstrated a failure to engage with the way the claimant was putting her case. The employment tribunal was required to engage with the case before it and to have regard to all the documentation, taking the claimant’s case at its highest.

Case:Ms_N_White_v_HC-_One_Oval_Ltd__2022__EAT_56.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

John Cook – Solicitor

John Cook

I am a qualified Solicitor with over 30 years’ experience running a business, managing a team, appearing in the Employment Tribunal and advising on almost every conceivable employment law and HR issue. Clients appreciate my down to earth and straight forward approach that allows them to achieve results and manage their organisation more effectively. I take the worry out of employment law and HR issues with a proactive and robust approach.