This week's case roundup
Reasonable response for an employer
Marlowe Child and Family Services v McIntosh, EAT, 2 October 2002 All ER(D) 294
McIntosh worked as a care worker for Marlowe Child and Family Services (MCFS), which provided care, education and therapy for children and young people. In May 2000, he was dismissed for gross misconduct after having given inaccurate information to MCFS in respect of previous convictions, making inappropriate use of company time and making threats against his employer. McIntosh brought a complaint of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal and was successful. MCFS appealed. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld MCFS's appeal.
The reason for McIntosh's dismissal related to his conduct. The issue to be determined was whether the dismissal was fair. The EAT held that MCFS's response in dismissing McIntosh for gross misconduct was within the band of reasonable responses for an employer.
Obligation to perform reasonable duties
Rooke v Anglian Water Services Limited, EAT, 17 June 2002, All ER(D) 91
Rooke worked as an engineer for Anglian, based in Colchester. Following a promotion, Rooke refused to sign his new contract due to a pay dispute, although he continued to work as normal.
Following a business reorganisation, Rooke was asked to relocate (in accordance with a mobility clause in his new contract), to which he objected. Anglian offered him an alternative position remaining in Colchester, which he also declined. Rooke refused to sign a new contract but remained bound by a clause in his original contract requiring him to 'perform such other reasonable duties as may be required'. From that time onwards, his attendance at work and performance deteriorated.
Six months later, following a disciplinary process, he was summarily dismissed for his misconduct.
Rooke's unfair dismissal complaint was dismissed and he appealed. The EAT then dismissed his appeal. Although Rooke's disagreement with Anglian centred on a dispute over the new contract, that had nothing to do with his dismissal, nor could it justify his misconduct. His dismissal was brought about by his behaviour, for example, in refusing to attend a training course or carry out project work. Given the circumstances, his dismissal was both substantively and procedurally fair.