Constructive Dismissal: The Principle Reason for Resignation

Constructive Dismissal: The Principle Reason for Resignation

The interesting case of Wright v North Ayrshire Council has recently been considered by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in which the Claimant resigned from her role as a care-at-home assistant.
The Claimant had raised 3 grievances with her employer and none of them had been properly answered. The Employment Tribunal considered that these failures by the employer could have amounted to repudiatory breaches of the Claimant’s contract. Should the Claimant have resigned directly as a result of these breaches it is likely that a constructive dismissal claim would have succeeded.
However it was also the case that the Claimant had caring responsibilities for her partner who had recently suffered a stroke. The Tribunal dismissed the claim for constructive dismissal because they considered that these caring duties were"the effective cause" of her resignation rather than the conduct of the employer. They applied a decision that had been previously made in the case of Jones v Sirl & Sons (Furnishers) Ltd.
The EAT said this was the wrong approach to have taken and ruled that the Tribunal had misinterpreted the meaning of"the effective cause" criterion which had been clarified in the previous cases of Nottingham County Council v Meikle and Abbey Cars (West Horndon) Ltd v Ford. Rather than being"the" effective cause of the resignation it is enough that the employer’s repudiatory breach was"an" effective cause. There should be no requirement that it be the most important cause.
It is therefore sufficient that the repudiatory breach"played a part in the dismissal". However the extent of the role played by the employer’s breach would be considered when calculating the level of compensation to award.
I mentioned at the beginning that this was an interesting case. Not necessarily on the facts but the EAT’s decision is very interesting. As long as a repudiatory or fundamental breach of an employee’s contract forms part of the reason why that employee resigns then it is likely that a constructive dismissal claim would succeed. That said the question of what constitutes a fundamental breach is very much something that can only be decided on the facts of each case.
If you consider that your employer has acted in breach of your employment contract then please contact the dedicated employment team at Michael Lewin Solicitors on 0113 200 9720 to discuss your situation.
Written by
Anthony Fox
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