Continuing a regular series spelling out the implications of important cases which have been heard recently in the appeal courts. Sarah Lamont looks at the issues.
of “Dismissal” for DDA
Commission of Police of the Metropolis v Harley, unreported, February 2001, EAT 185/2000
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person whom it employs by dismissing him. However, “dismissal” is not defined. In this case, the EAT considered the meaning of dismissal in this context.
It held that a termination of the contract of employment by a unilateral act of the employer (ie, an actual dismissal) is covered by the DDA. However, the ending of a contract by effluxion of time (such as a fixed-term contract which expires) and a constructive dismissal are not covered.
The EAT compared the wording of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (SDA) and the Race Relations Act 1976 (RRA) with the DDA. There is no definition of “dismissal” in the RRA and, originally, there was no definition in the SDA until in 1986 it was specifically amended to include a termination by effluxion of time and a constructive dismissal. Given the fact that Parliament had clearly taken the view that such amendment was necessary, the EAT could not hold that “dismissal” under the DDA was wide enough to cover these events.
for the manner of dismissal
Johnson v Unisys, unreported, March 2001, House of Lords
In Addis v Gramophone Co, 1909, AC 488, it was held that common law damages for wrongful dismissal cannot include compensation for injury to feelings or loss of reputation arising from the manner of a dismissal. To address this lack of protection Parliament introduced the unfair dismissal legislation in the 1970s. The issue arose again in this case.
Johnson had won an unfair dismissal claim. He then brought a second claim in the County Court for damages arising from the manner of his dismissal, alleging that it was in breach of various implied terms in his contract of employment, in particular the implied term of trust and confidence. He alleged that as a consequence of the manner of the dismissal he suffered a mental breakdown and he had been