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Unfair Dismissal

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Can an employee be fairly dismissed without any procedure (including an appeal), after a breakdown in working relations ?

Yes (in rather unusual circumstances), held the EAT in Gallacher v Abellio Scotrail.

The Claimant was a senior manager in the Respondent's business. Her relationship with her line manager deteriorated at a critical juncture for the Respondent. The Claimant's manager decided, after consulting with HR, to dismiss her at an appraisal meeting with no procedure, forewarning or right of appeal.

The tribunal found the dismissal to be fair, the decision to dismiss without any procedure being within the band of reasonable responses in these particular circumstances, even holding that a procedure would have made the situation worse.

The EAT, noting the rather unusual circumstances of the case, declined to overturn the tribunal's decision. There may be cases, albeit rare, where procedures may be dispensed with because they are reasonably considered by the employer to be futile in the circumstances. The tribunal had found that on both sides the working relationship had broken down. There is no rule of law that the absence of any procedure renders a dismissal unfair, all the circumstances of the case have to be taken into account. But the EAT noted that: 

"Dismissals without following any procedures will always be subject to extra caution on the part of the Tribunal before being considered to fall within the band of reasonable responses." 

Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Law at Work for preparing this case summary.