A woman has won her case of constructive dismissal after her employers approached her son about her faltering performance rather than speak to her directly.
The woman worked for an accountancy firm. She was a competent member of staff and received a positive performance review.
However, months later she didn’t receive a pay rise as she had expected. Her superiors had become concerned with her behaviour and performance, feeling they had significantly worsened.
Instead of challenging the woman about these issues, they spoke discreetly to her son. The woman found out about the meeting and resigned from her post.
She sued her former employers for constructive dismissal. She claimed her position within the firm had become untenable because she had been embarrassed and undermined by the meeting.
The employment tribunal ruled in her favour. The firm’s actions in approaching the woman’s son rather than speaking to her directly was a clear breach of the implied term of trust and confidence required in an employer-employee relationship. This was despite the tribunal concluding that the employer’s motivations in speaking to her son were genuine and that the workplace was a friendly and supportive environment.
It agreed however that the firm had reason to be concerned about the woman’s performance, and concluded there was a 40% chance she would have been dismissed within eight months of the date that she resigned. A compensation figure was calculated on this basis.
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