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TUPE: unfair dismissal

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In a 'TUPE transfer', can a dismissal for purely 'personal' reasons, e.g. arising from a poor working relationship with a colleague, prevent a dismissal from being automatically unfair for being related to a transfer?

No, held the Court of Appeal in Hare Wines v Kaur.

The Claimant and a colleague had long-standing difficulties working with each other. That colleague was to become a director of a company that was taking over the wine wholesaler that employed the Claimant in a TUPE transfer. Before the transfer, the outgoing employer dismissed the Claimant. The tribunal held that the dismissal was for a reason related to the transfer and so automatically unfair.

The tribunal found that the Claimant was dismissed because the transferee employer did not want her, so it did not wish the Claimant’s employment to transfer to it, therefore the reason for dismissal was the transfer. The Court noted that dismissals for economic, technical or organisational ‘ETO’ reasons connected with transfers can be fair, but the law does not recognise any category of ‘personal’ reason for dismissal as stopping a transfer-related dismissal from being automatically unfair.

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.