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EPL case studies
Chubb Specialty Insurance

Maternity leave detriment
Whilst on maternity leave an employee was not told about a vacancy that arose in her workplace. An Employment Tribunal found that this was a fundamental breach of contract entitling her to claim constructive dismissal. This was despite the fact that she was not qualified for the post due to lack of relevant experience. The tribunal found that the failure to keep the employee properly informed was both maternity leave related detriment and direct sex discrimination.

Employee’s refusal to act in alleged breach of regulations
An employee’s responsibilities included monitoring compliance with electrical and machinery safety regulations. His company had a project to provide backup generators to a client, but the employee advised his manager that providing them without a required certificate would breach regulations. After being sacked on the grounds of poor communications and relations with colleagues and clients, he claimed he was unfairly dismissed for having blown the whistle on the company’s alleged wrongdoing.

Unfair dismissal
An employee of an IT consultancy firm was fired after he sent a fax to the chairman of the company’s parent expressing concerns about cashflow problems within the firm and the managing director’s handling of expenses. After an inquiry into the allegations, the company set up a disciplinary hearing at which the employee was asked to resign. When he refused he was sacked for gross misconduct. The employee brought an action for unfair dismissal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The tribunal upheld the action and awarded £293,000 in compensation.

Sex discrimination
An employee of a magazine publisher told a tribunal that she was forced to resign after bosses refused to allow her to change her hours to look after her newborn baby. She had previously worked alternating shifts but after having her baby she needed to finish work at 5pm to look after her child. She claimed £43,593 compensation for sex discrimination which included £5,000 for injury to feelings.

Sacking for improper use of company vehicle
Management found an employee about to drive a colleague’s company vehicle after drinking alcohol and for his own private use. When they challenged him, he was aggressive and swore at them. There was a disciplinary hearing and he was dismissed. He sued for unfair dismissal, lost his claim and then appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The EAT found that he had not been unfairly dismissed.

Pay equality
A former human resources manager won £19,000 compensation from her employer in an out of court settlement after claiming she was paid less than a male colleague in an equivalent job. The employee complained that she was underpaid and was the only member of the management team not to be given a mobile phone. She resigned, claiming unfair dismissal, alleging her company had tried to demote her. The payout came less than 2 months after new rules gave workers the right to submit a questionnaire asking if a colleague of the opposite sex in an equivalent job was being paid more.

Redundancy
A senior editor in a publishing business was made redundant due to the business’ financial difficulties. The tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed, because the employer had failed to consider whether a subordinate employee should have been made redundant instead with the editor then being offered the subordinate’s role.

Retaliation
The former manager of a bowling alley brought a successful action at tribunal on the grounds of sex discrimination, claiming that she had been dismissed for becoming pregnant. The company settled the case out of court for £11,000. When she later approached employment agencies to find a new job her previous employers refused to provide a reference. She then brought a second action claiming that the failure to provide a reference was in retaliation for her earlier action. This was upheld at tribunal, which awarded her £195,000.

Male’s sex discrimination claim for ear boxing
A male apprentice received a clip round the ear and verbal abuse from his male employer. The Employment Appeal Tribunal found the employer liable for sex discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 on the basis that the employer was less likely to have clipped a woman around the ear.