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S&G lawyer wins unfair dismissal claim – but no damages

Slater & Gordon: Redundancy was fair

A senior costs specialist at Slater & Gordon (S&G) has won a claim for unfair dismissal on one ground but an employment tribunal decided it would not be just to award him damages.

The tribunal said Rob Moon should have had a right to appeal against the decision to make him redundant, but S&G made no provision for one.

He headed a small team in its Cardiff office as costs resolution manager and at the time he was made redundant had been unhappy with how work was allocated between the costs teams in S&G’s offices and other work issues, leading to complaints, grievances and earlier tribunal claims.

He also suffered from anxiety and depression, which led to periods of sick leave.

The tribunal said: “It appears that this [illness] arose, or was at least contributed to, by his concerns over workplace matters, particularly what he perceived to be the unfair allocation of work and the impact that had on the Cardiff team’s ability to hit its targets.

“Concerns also existed around recruitment into the team and salaries, with the claimant being keen to ensure that the members of his team were appropriately remunerated.”

At the latest tribunal, he claimed unfair dismissal from his £53,000-a-year job and also that he had been discriminated against and harassed on the ground of disability, as well as victimised.

He also claimed there had been unauthorised deductions from wages and a failure to make reasonable adjustments.

But the tribunal found that he was dismissed by reason of redundancy: “Whilst the claimant’s health and the concerns he had raised may have been in the background, and, in our view may have made it a little easier for the respondent to take the decision that the termination of his employment by reason of redundancy should be explored, we were satisfied that redundancy was the reason, or certainly the principal reason, for his dismissal.”

The redundancy itself was fair but the tribunal was “deeply concerned” by the lack of any right to appeal – even though it acknowledged that ACAS does not require one and there was no direct case law on the point.

S&G contended that there had been a comprehensive consultation process, which meant there was no need for an appeal.

But the tribunal considered that “a reasonable employer, acting reasonably in the circumstances, would have allowed the employee the opportunity to appeal against the redundancy decision”.

It continued: “Notwithstanding that there had been a reasonable consultation process and that, in the circumstances of this case, a relatively independent manager had been brought in to manage the redundancy consultation process and to make the final decision as to whether the claimant should be made redundant, we considered that it would have been appropriate for the claimant to have had the opportunity to lodge an appeal against that decision and to have that appeal considered by another of the respondent’s managers.”

This mean the dismissal was unfair but the tribunal said there should be neither a basic award – as Mr Moon received a redundancy payment – nor a compensatory one.

Mr Moon would not have had “any prospect of advancing any argument on appeal which would have undermined that decision and led to a different conclusion”.

As a result, Mr Moon would not have sustained any losses as a result of the unfair dismissal.

All of his other claims were dismissed.