Ion v Citu Manufacturing Ltd & Anor [2023] EAT 151

Appeal against the dismissal of the Claimant's claim of unfair dismissal. Appeal allowed.

The Claimant, who was Romanian, was a joiner with the Respondent. He was a conscientious worker. He was dismissed with others in May 2020, ostensibly for redundancy. The ET accepted that he was selected because of the Respondent's perception that he was disruptive, based on his failure to comply with company values which focussed on teamwork. The ET rejected his claims that the reason or principal reason for his dismissal was whistleblowing and/or that it was materially influenced by his nationality. The ET also rejected his claim for disability discrimination on the basis that, although he was “disabled” because of his back problems during the relevant time after his return to work from his operation, he was able to work without any apparent limitation. The Claimant appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal on 3 grounds:

  1. The ET had not properly applied section 136 EqA 2010: they should have identified the facts giving rise to an inference of race discrimination, recognised that the onus had passed to the Respondents under section 136 to prove on the basis of cogent evidence that the dismissal was in “no sense whatsoever” because of the Claimant’s nationality and “grappled with” significant evidence pointing towards discrimination.
  1. The ET had failed to make clear findings of fact in relation to the alleged protected disclosures relied on or analysed whether they were indeed protected disclosures and, if so, what their effect on the Respondent was: given the nature of the reason relied on for the dismissal it was not sufficient in this case simply to say that the Claimant had not proved that the reason or principle reason for the dismissal was protected disclosure(s).
  1. There were serious material procedural irregularities in the course of the hearing in that (a) the quality of the Romanian/English interpretation was not good enough and the ET had failed to address the issue properly until the fourth day and (b) there were a significant number of occasions when the EJ intervened to prevent questioning of the Respondent’s witnesses in relation to culture and values which were relevant to the issues in the case.

Published: 23/01/2024 12:04

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