The Edinburgh Mela Ltd v Purnell (Unfair Dismissal) [2021] UKEAT 0041/19/1906

Appeal against an ET decision that upheld the Claimant’s claims of automatic unfair dismissal and detriment by reason of having made protected disclosures. Appeal dismissed.

The Claimant was employed by the Respondent as its Director. There was a breakdown in relations between the Claimant and the Respondent’s board. The Respondent reported the Claimant to the police for alleged irregularities in financial matters. The Claimant resigned citing a breakdown in trust and confidence as the reason. He claimed that he was constructively dismissed by reason of having made disclosures to the Respondent’s board. The police investigation took a long time to complete, but by the end it was decided that no further action would be taken. The ET upheld the Claimant’s claim of automatic unfair dismissal and detriment by reason of having made protected disclosures and assessed the compensatory award based on loss of earnings and other matters to be just under £50,000. As to injury to feelings, the ET considered that the detriments, including the police investigation, caused significant injury and awarded the claimant £15,000, a sum falling within the middle Vento band. The Respondent appealed.

The EAT dismissed the appeal. The threshold for establishing that an act is a detriment is not high. Being reported to the police for alleged wrongdoing is not something that occurs in the normal course of employment. An employee who has been reported in that way, particularly when the basis for doing so is wholly unjustified (as the tribunal found), would clearly have a legitimate sense of grievance, and would, therefore, have been subjected to a detriment.

Published: 13/08/2021 09:43