Employers who take a chaotic approach to preparing for Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings can expect to be dragged over the coals in public. That fate painfully befell a marketing company, although it was ultimately successful in defending a disability discrimination claim.
The case concerned a young man who suffered from anxiety and depression and was dismissed by the company without prior notice. After he launched proceedings, an ET found that minutes of the meeting where his employment was terminated, which purported to give reasons for his dismissal, exhibited a flagrant disregard for the truth.
In its original response to the claim, the company said that it had dispensed with his services for reasons relating to his capability. Very shortly before the case came on for hearing, however, its stance entirely shifted and it argued that he had been made redundant. Evidence presented by the company was described by the ET as evasive, confusing and contradictory.
In rejecting the man’s disability discrimination complaint, however, the ET ultimately accepted that the real reason for his dismissal was the company’s desire to reduce its headcount. The primary reason why he had been selected for redundancy was that he had less than two years’ service with the company.
Dismissing his challenge to that outcome, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) noted that it was easy to sympathise with him. The company’s case had been put together chaotically and was initially advanced on an incorrect basis. The ET was, however, able to sort the wheat from the chaff and was entitled to reach the clear conclusion that his dismissal was unconnected to his disability.