A former University of Huddersfield lecturer who was dismissed for not having a PhD has been awarded £108,000 in compensation after the university refused to reinstate him.
The Leeds employment tribunal ordered the university to pay the maximum level of compensation to Jonathan Duxbury, who was unable to complete the required PhD because of concerns for his mental health.
Duxbury was a senior lecturer in the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics. He was not required to hold a PhD when he took up the post in 2005, but a change of policy in 2013 meant that the university now required him to complete one in order to continue teaching at this level.
When he enrolled on the PhD programme, he raised concerns about workload as he would have to complete it on top of his usual work commitments. He said it could have a negative impact on his mental health as he had previously suffered from stress.
After several disciplinary meetings and postponements to his PhD study due to his health, Duxbury was dismissed from the university in 2020.
Unfair dismissal cases
He won his unfair dismissal case at the Leeds employment tribunal last year, which ordered the university to reinstate Duxbury.
However, at a final hearing last week, the university said it had chosen not to reinstate him and would pay compensation instead.
Iain Birrell, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, which represented Duxbury, said: “The employment tribunal found the University of Huddersfield to have deliberately caused Jonathan to suffer substantial loss – yet our broken unfair dismissal system allows them to make a payment that does not fairly reflect the losses that Mr Duxbury had faced.
“This makes a mockery of the tribunal’s supposed powers – they are toothless if employers decide it’s cheaper for them pay the most they can be made to, rather than take someone back.
“While I am delighted that, with the support of his union the UCU, we have recovered the maximum possible compensation for Jonathan, I am professionally frustrated that this represents only a fraction of his real losses. In an employment tribunal, employers can thumb their nose at a court order which wouldn’t happen in any other area of the court system. This isn’t the justice that the system was set up to deliver or that working people should be entitled to expect.”
Duxbury said: “I am pleased this was taken all the way to expose the appalling attitude of the University of Huddersfield, I am furious that they have been allowed to get away with ignoring a court order. What I will get in the award goes nowhere near what I will lose in salary between now and when I would have retired. A cheque that the university will write off as a business expense is all that I am left with after they have caused me endless stress and far greater financial loss.”
The University of Huddersfield has been contacted for comment.