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Unfair Dismissal

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Can a dismissal still be fair if the employer refuses to hear an appeal?

Yes (in certain circumstances), held the EAT in Moore v Phoenix Product Development Limited.

The Claimant, the inventor of a water efficient toilet, stepped down as CEO of the Respondent. He had difficulty accepting he was no longer leading the company although he stayed on as a director and employee. The situation worsened and he was dismissed due to an irretrievable breakdown in relationships (coming under the category of 'some other substantial reason'). He was not offered a right of appeal.

The tribunal rejected his claim of unfair dismissal. The Claimant had met with the new CEO and agreed to make things work. However, he was still 'combative', sending aggressive emails containing foul and abusive language. The Claimant's attitude at the board meeting where he was dismissed was 'confrontational'. The tribunal dismissed the claim, noting that the appeal would have been pointless, and that the Claimant was entirely responsible for the breakdown in the relationship. The Claimant appealed.

The EAT upheld the decision. An appeal will normally be part of a fair procedure, but not invariably so. The relevant circumstances should be taken into account. It was a small organisation, relations had broken down, the Claimant held a senior position and was unrepentant. The tribunal was right to find an appeal would have been futile, and that was one of the relevant circumstances to be taken into account.

Thanks to James English of Ward Hadaway for preparing this case summary.