Hamilton v Fife Council UKEATS/0006/20/SS

Appeal against the ET’s refusal of the Claimant’s claim of constructive unfair dismissal. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant, who was disabled by reason of High Functioning Autism, worked for the Respondent as a teacher. The day after a meeting between the Claimant and the head teacher, the Claimant was informed that she was liable to be transferred to another school pursuant to the applicable collective agreement. The Claimant brought proceedings in the ET for constructive unfair dismissal, failure to make reasonable adjustments, victimisation and harassment. The ET, having found that the decision to transfer the Claimant was unconnected to the meeting on the previous day, dismissed all of the claims, except that it found that the Respondent had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the Claimant in two respects, and it awarded compensation for hurt feelings. The Claimant appealed on grounds including that the ET incorrectly construed the collective agreement by failing to hold that it contained an obligation that was enforceable by the Claimant, and that the Respondent's actions breached the duty of trust and confidence (Malik v BCCI SA (In Liquidation) [1997] ICR 606).

The EAT held that the vagueness of the provision in the collective agreement led to the conclusion that it was not intended to confer an individual right of the kind contended for by the Claimant, and so the ET's conclusion that the Respondent did not breach the contract by its actions was correct. Further, the ET had addressed the fact that the Respondent acted in good faith and had reasonable and justifiable grounds for its actions, so any argument based on Malik could not succeed.


Published: 10/05/2021 17:32

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