Employers cannot be held liable for distress or injury to feelings in unfair
dismissal cases, the EAT has ruled.
This issue was thrown into doubt by the 2001 House of Lords ruling in
Johnson v Unisys,when Lord Hoffman suggested tribunals might be able to make
awards for injury to feelings caused by the manner of a dismissal, if this
breached the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence.
Since then, it has been common for former employees alleging unfair
dismissal to seek compensation for damage to feelings, and some employment
tribunals have obliged.
But in Dunnachie v Kingston upon Hull City Council and other appeals, the
EAT has made clear that Johnson did not change the law and claimants are
entitled only to compensation for the financial loss suffered.
This contrasts with discrimination claims, where employees can receive
compensation for injury to feelings.
"This is good news, ensuring that negotiations over dismissals can, in
the absence of discrimination, be kept relatively simple," said Adam
Turner, employment partner at Lovells.