Case round-up

Case round-up by Eversheds 020 7919 4500

That’s settled then… or is it?
Whiley v Christopher Clarke Workshops Limited, EAT, [11 March 2003]

Informal agreements can often be difficult to prove and, therefore, equally
difficult to enforce.

Mr Whiley sustained a back injury and was eventually signed off work by his
GP. After he had been absent for approximately two months, his manager spoke to
his GP. The manager updated the company’s managing director of that
conversation. However, instead of referring to a likely three-month absence,
the manager misleadingly informed him that Whiley would be off work for months
and might not work again. As a result, Whiley was dismissed with immediate
effect. He brought complaints of unfair dismissal and disability

The tribunal found that the company’s failure to follow any proper procedure
was unfair. However, the claim for disability discrimination was dismissed on
the basis the company could not have known that Whiley was
"disabled". Having delivered its decision, the tribunal invited the
parties to discuss a settlement, and the sum of £2,000 was agreed by handshake.

Nevertheless, Whiley still sought to appeal the tribunal’s finding that
there had been no discrimination.

Despite the company’s protestations that the appeal should not be heard as
the case had been compromised by the settlement, the EAT upheld the appeal. It
found that the terms of the settlement had not been recorded or signed by the
representatives. It also concluded that the agreed sum only related to the
tribunal’s finding that Whiley had been unfairly dismissed and was not "in
full and final settlement". As such, he was not barred from pursuing his
appeal and, having done so successfully, was entitled to further compensation.

No time for part-time?
Sibley v The Girls’ Day School Trust, Norwich High School for Girls,
EAT, [20 May 2003]

In recent months, even prior to the new flexible working rights, there have
been many successful cases against employers who have refused part-time work.
As this case demonstrates, however, while employers must give all such requests
serious consideration, not every job is suited to that arrangement.

Ms Sibley was a teacher. Following a period of maternity leave, she asked to
return to work part-time. While the school agreed to grant her request if a
part-time post came up, it did not accept that she could undertake her current
post on a part-time basis as it included form tutor duties.

Sibley resigned, claiming constructive unfair dismissal and sex
discrimination. She alleged that the school’s requirement meant that, as a
woman, she was less able to meet the full-time condition it was imposing than a
male teacher would be. As such, she believed its conduct was indirectly

However, the tribunal rejected both claims. In particular, it found that the
school’s belief that form tutor duties should be carried out full-time was
reasonably held, and was objectively justified as a policy.

Sibley appealed unsuccessfully. The EAT accepted the tribunal’s decision
that the school’s approach was both professional and reasonable, and that the
condition it was applying in this case was objectively justified.

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