in brief

This month’s news in brief

Hurdles in stress at work claims

Osborne argued that her employer had imposed an excessive burden of work on
her which was consequently in breach of the implied term of mutual trust and
confidence, entitling her to resign. The EAT considered in detail the Court of
Appeal case in Sutherland v Hatton.

The EAT confirmed that in order to succeed in a ‘stress claim’ before a
tribunal, an employee still needs to overcome the hurdles established in Sutherland
v Hatton and establish the risk of injury was foreseeable, the employer was in
breach of their duty, and that breach of duty caused the harm. To succeed in a
constructive dismissal claim, however, the employee had to go one stage further
and also establish that the breach was a fundamental breach of the contract of
employment. Marshall Specialist Vehicles Limited v Osborne EAT

Foul and abusive language is breach of trust and confidence

Having reported on the Cantor Fitzgerald case, it is worth also drawing
attention to this case. The EAT again had to consider whether highly abusive
language was sufficient to amount to a fundamental breach of the implied term
of mutual trust and confidence.

The tribunal, in the first instance, found in favour of Neyrfor and
considered that the defendant’s language did not amount to a breach. The EAT
drew a distinction between what language may be commonly used on oilrigs and
what may be common in boardrooms. The EAT said the tribunal’s judgment that the
language was not a breach of contract was ‘wholly flawed’.
Ogilvy v Neyrfor-Weir Limited – EAT

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