Employment Cases Update

Gallacher v Abellio Scotrail Ltd UKEATS/0027/19/SS

Date published: 18/08/2020

Appeal against the ET’s decision that the Claimant’s dismissal without following any procedure was not unfair or discriminatory. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant was a senior employee of the Respondent. Her working relationship with another senior colleague deteriorated at a time when the Respondent was facing difficult trading conditions and needed the Claimant and her colleague to work constructively together. The Respondent found that there was a breakdown in trust, the situation was not recoverable, and there were no suitable opportunities for the Claimant elsewhere in the business; and so the Claimant was informed of the decision to dismiss her at her pre-arranged annual appraisal meeting. The Claimant did not dispute that there was a breakdown in trust and did not raise a grievance, but she subsequently complained to the ET that her dismissal was unfair and that it amounted to discrimination in connection with her disability (namely, symptoms in connection with the menopause and depression, although there was a dispute as to when the Respondent had knowledge of the disability). The ET concluded that the reason for the dismissal was the irretrievable breakdown of working relations between the Claimant and her colleague; as to fairness, the ET considered that following any process would have risked worsening the situation, and so the decision to dismiss was substantially and procedurally fair. The Claimant appealed on grounds including that the ET had erred in concluding that the dismissal was not unfair in circumstances where she was not given any notice that her annual appraisal meeting would be used to inform her of her dismissal, and where she was not given any opportunity to respond to the decision to dismiss by way of appeal or otherwise.

The EAT held that the ET had correctly exercised extra caution before considering that this dismissal without following any procedures fell within the band of reasonable responses, and so the ET had come to a conclusion that was open to it on the evidence that it heard.

Read the full text of the judgment on BAILII or download the file by clicking the link below.