Case study: Claiming constructive dismissal

Jean worked as the area manager of a company for 10 years. Brian worked as the accountant of the company. Three years ago, Jean went on maternity leave and after she returned to work, she found that many of her responsibilities were being gradually removed and given to Brian. Jean claimed her position was intolerable.

She contacted her manager to complain and was assured her responsibilities would soon be transferred back to her and that her work situation would return to normal. When there was no improvement in the situation, she wrote to the manager again. Her letter said that unless she received a reply within 7 days confirming her functions and responsibilities as area manager were the same as before, she would consider herself constructively dismissed and leave her employment.

Jean then made a claim for constructive dismissal against her employer but was her claim successful?

Answer

The Employment Appeals Tribunal decided that the company had appointed Brian as joint area manager without consultation or notice to Jean and this conduct had undermined the relationship of confidence and trust between her and the company. The Tribunal found that it reasonable that she found this undermining of her confidence and trust in her. The managing director had failed to communicate with her to reassure her about her position and to maintain the relationship of confidence and trust.

This conduct indicated that the company no longer intended to be bound by the terms of her contract as area manager. Therefore she was entitled to terminate her employment because of the conduct of her employer and was constructively dismissed.

Page edited: 6 January 2015