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Test for determining constructive dismissal claims
In Wright v North Ayrshire Council, the EAT has clarified the requirements for establishing a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. It held that a repudiatory breach only has to be “an” effective cause of resignation, not “the” effective cause.
The Claimant was employed by the council for 7 years until her resignation and claim for constructive unfair dismissal. The Tribunal found that there were a number of breaches which were considered to be fundamental in respect of non-responses to the Claimant’s grievance and unsubstantiated allegations against her. However there was also evidence of the Claimant’s very difficult personal circumstances surrounding the death of her mother and concurrent serious illness of her partner, which required her to juggle her work and home life, ultimately unsuccessfully. The Tribunal found that the main reason for the Claimant’s resignation was not the employer’s fundamental breaches but the difficulties with her home life and that, although she had clearly been upset by the treatment of the council, this was not the effective cause of her resignation.
The EAT held that the Tribunal had erred in law in coming to this conclusion and that in looking at the case law, it was clear that an individual could claim they had been constructively dismissed if the repudiatory breach is one of the facts relied upon and does not have to be the only, or main, factor. This case has been remitted to the same Tribunal for it to determine whether the council’s repudiatory breach played a part in the Claimant’s resignation.
This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.
For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.
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