Employers all too often assert that a worker’s services are no longer needed when the real reason for their dismissal has nothing whatever to do with redundancy. As one case showed, however, employment judges were not born yesterday and are always on the lookout for such shams.
The case concerned the former head of operations of an advertising sales company. He worked long hours, often at weekends and during his holidays. He had a difficult relationship with his line manager, however, largely due to the repeated demands that she placed upon him, often at short notice or during his annual leave.
When called to a meeting, he expected to be offered additional support. However, he was instead told that a reorganisation process was afoot, that costs needed to be cut and that his role was to be deleted. Following a series of further meetings, he was dismissed on purported grounds of redundancy. He was told to return his company car, telephone and laptop and his corporate internet and email access were terminated that same day. His internal appeal against dismissal failed.
Upholding his unfair dismissal claim, an Employment Tribunal (ET) concluded that no redundancy situation had in fact arisen. The company’s requirement for the type of work that he performed had not diminished, nor was it expected to do so. The company was apparently performing well and it had presented no figures or accounts in support of the contention that cost savings needed to be made.
The ET found, on the balance of probabilities, that the reason for his dismissal was that his line manager disliked him or because he had challenged her management style and refused to work during his annual leave, as he was entitled to do. She was determined to see the back of him and her sole objective was to terminate his employment under the guise of a redundancy when it was nothing of the sort.
He was not consulted meaningfully and suggestions made by the line manager as to alternative jobs for which he might be suited were insulting to him. The duties he performed still existed and the purported redundancy process was a sham, consisting of several serious procedural irregularities. If not agreed, the amount of his compensation would be assessed at a further hearing.