May 28, 2015

Dismissal for "Some Other Substantial Reason"

In the case of Anderson v Chesterfield High School [2015] UKEAT/0206/14/MC, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) considered the fairness of the dismissal of a Mayor from his salaried role at a school because of his involvement in what might be regarded a misuse of public funds.

The claimant was the Mayor of Liverpool who had previously held a position at a publicly funded school. When he started his full-time public role as Mayor, he had retained a paid employment position at the school even though he no longer performed any duties there. The school then became an academy and his employment transferred under TUPE.

The academy dismissed him because it thought the arrangement was inequitable on the basis that he was receiving some £4,500 a year in return for which the pupils received no benefit. The claimant brought an unfair dismissal claim. The EAT found that it was reasonable to have found that the arrangement was inequitable and could lead to significant criticism if it became public. The academy’s wish to extricate itself from the arrangement with Anderson was a “clear example” of some other substantial reason (SOSR), which is a potentially fair reason for dismissal. The dismissal was nevertheless found to be unfair because the academy had failed to follow a fair process in relation to the dismissal; however, the claimant received only minimal compensation because the EAT found that (i) he had contributed toward his downfall by failing to keep the school informed of his decision to stand for Mayor, and (ii) it was 100 percent likely that the academy would still have dismissed him even if it had followed a fair procedure.

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