A new lecturer was put in an “impossible situation” by the University of Manchester leading to his constructive dismissal, an employment tribunal has found.
According to a report by the Times Higher Education, the tribunal panel was unanimous in its decision that engineering lecturer Andrew Cross had been subjected to “unreasonable and insensitive treatment” by his bosses during his three-year probationary period.
A committee was convened to decide if the lecturer should be offered permanent employment at the end of the period in November 2007 but they concluded his probation should be extended for another 12 months.
After attempting to obtain a reason for the decision, Cross resigned and accepted a post inindustry.
He said in his resignation letter that three years was “a more than sufficient period for an employer to make up its mind about the abilities of an employee”.
Soon afterwards he launched a legal claim for constructive dismissal.
The university argued that the academic’s trust and confidence could not have been undermined because he was still seeking reinstatement at the time he brought the action.
However, the tribunal rejected this argument, pointing out that it was the university’s failure to offer a permanent job that had prompted the lecturer to treat its “unacceptable behaviour” as a breach of contract.
In a judgment handed down in March, the tribunal said appraisal forms showed that Cross had achieved all of his objectives.
“All the members of the tribunal regard the cumulative effect of these shortcomings as nothing less than a shambolic exercise of the respondent’s obligations… the university had, by its actions or omissions, put Dr Cross in an impossible situation by December 2007,” the judgment said.
The university said it had reviewed and tightened protocols relating to the employment of academic staff and procedures were now more transparent.