Articles about solicitors and legal services

Teacher who resigned wins constructive dismissal claim

A teacher who says he resigned rather than dismiss a person who was deaf has won his claim for constructive dismissal.

The teacher worked as the head of care at a school. When he recruited a woman who was deaf, the owner of the school called him to a meeting. The teacher said the owner instructed him to dismiss the woman because of her disability. The owner denies giving such an instruction.

The teacher then resigned because he was unwilling to dismiss someone for reasons of disability. His complaint of constructive unfair dismissal was upheld by an employment tribunal which found that although the school owner had not explicitly ordered that the deaf employee should be dismissed, the discussions about terminating her employment were as clear an instruction as it was possible to give without using express words.

That view was later upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The school then took the case to the Court of Appeal, submitting that there was no evidence that there was an implied instruction to dismiss and so therefore the tribunal findings were perverse and wrong in law.

However, the Appeal Court has upheld the tribunal decision, saying that evidence of oral discussions such as that between the teacher and the owner did not have to satisfy standards of perfection. It only had to be more likely to be true than the evidence offered by the other side after taking all the relevant circumstances into account.

The tribunal had therefore been entitled to find that on the balance of probabilities, the teacher had resigned because he had been instructed to dismiss the disabled employee, even if his evidence recalling the meeting was not an exact account of what was actually said by the owner.

Please contact us if you would like more information about employment issues.

If you wish to make an appointment, or ask us a question please contact us.