Court of Appeal says unfair dismissal complies with human rights rules

The Court of Appeal has established that employers should have confidence in unfair dismissal rules, even where an employee has alleged that human rights have been infringed.

A recent case has shown that the “band of reasonable responses” test, used to determine unfair dismissal claims, remains perfectly sufficient where an employee makes a claim that their right to respect for private and family life has been infringed.

In Turner v East Midlands Trains Ltd, Ms Turner was employed as a senior conductor and was dismissed from her job for selling faulty tickets and dishonestly keeping the proceeds. Ms Turner took her unfair dismissal case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that the consequences of her sacking engaged her rights under art.8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which confers the right to respect for private and family life.

She argued that by being found to be dishonest, she would find it difficult to obtain other employment and her relationships with former work colleagues would be damaged. For this reason, she believed that the tribunal should apply a “proportionality” test under art.8, rather than the usual band of reasonable responses test that would apply in an unfair dismissal case.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected her argument that the concept of proportionality is either helpful or relevant when considering the fairness of the procedures required by art.8, and stated that the band of reasonable responses test provides a “sufficiently robust, flexible and objective analysis of all aspects of the decision to dismiss to ensure compliance with art.8”.

XpertHR employment law editor John Read said: “Employers can be confident that if they comply with the law on unfair dismissal in conducting a disciplinary process and taking a decision to dismiss, they will not be in breach of art.8.”

XpertHR has further information on unfair dismissal:

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