Does a tribunal have to reach a clear conclusion about the decision-maker's reason for dismissing an employee (in discrimination and unfair dismissal claims)?
Yes, held the EAT in Cummins Ltd v Mohammed.
The Claimant suffered from anxiety and depression. His GP recommended a therapeutic holiday. He was dismissed without notice after taking a holiday to Pakistan although he claimed that he had been given permission to go. His employer disputed this, and also asserted that he had been declared fit for work before he went. He brought claims of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The tribunal upheld the Claimant's claim that the dismissal amounted to discrimination because of something arising in consequence of his disability. His employer appealed.
The EAT upheld the appeal (and remitted the case to be reheard by a new tribunal). The tribunal must consider why the decision-maker acted as they did. In this case, the Tribunal had failed to grapple with the decision-maker's reasoning. The Tribunal had stated that the 'something' arising from his disability was the trip to Pakistan. Their decision didn't address what part the disputed permission or fitness to work played in the decision. In relation to his unfair dismissal claim, the EAT also held that the tribunal had substituted their decision for that of the employer as they had failed to properly address the actual misconduct that the Claimant had been accused of.
Thanks to James English of Ward Hadaway for preparing this case summary.