Proserv UK Limited was ordered by the Employment Tribunal to pay Philip Hunt, its former global business development manager, almost £80,000 after it was found that Mr Hunt had been unfairly dismissed in January 2015.
Mr Hunt, who had worked for Proserv for over 20 years until his dismissal, brought claims for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, and breach of contract in the Employment Tribunal after his employment was terminated in January 2015. The Aberdeen Employment Tribunal heard earlier this year that Mr Hunt had been called to a meeting in December 2014 where he was told that his employment was to be terminated due to redundancy (the need to restructure the company), with this meeting being the first notice that Mr Hunt had received that he was to be potentially made redundant. Mr Hunt stated in his witness statement that he was told in this meeting that he was being offered a settlement agreement “for tax purposes” and was then told to clear his desk, go home, and inform colleagues that he was going home for “family reasons”. Mr Hunt was subsequently dismissed from his employment on 31 January 2015.
Mr Hunt gave evidence to the Employment Tribunal that his former responsibilities were now being undertaken by a former colleague, with this colleague being promoted to the position of vice-president after Mr Hunt’s dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal, chaired by Employment Judge Nicol Hosie, found in Mr Hunt’s favour in respect of his unfair dismissal claim but rejected his claims for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract. With regards to Mr Hunt’s unfair dismissal claim, the Employment Tribunal held that Mr Hunt had been treated in a “most insensitive, cavalier, disrespectful manner”, particularly with regards to the fact that Mr Hunt had been employed by the company for over 20 years. Mr Hunt was awarded £76,574 by the Employment Tribunal for loss of earnings and statutory rights that he had sustained since the loss of his employment in January 2015, as well as the cost of his court fees (£1,200). The wrongful dismissal and breach of contract claims were dismissed by the Employment Tribunal as not having sufficient evidence in support of them.
Mr Hunt does not appear to have commented after the Employment Tribunal’s decision, but Proserv has indicated that it will appeal the judgment of the Employment Tribunal.
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the claim: “In redundancy situations employers must take care to undertake a fair and impartial redundancy procedure, give employees sufficient notice of their termination, and make a decision to dismiss that is not a ‘fait accompli’; essentially, there must be a process of consultation whereby the employer can give their reasons for making the employee redundant and the employee can provide alternative solutions to the redundancy. If the employer fails to carry out this process then it is likely that an Employment Tribunal will find a dismissal to be unfair.”