Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, answers the question:
“I work for a law firm in the City of London and have been dismissed by my boss because I ended a sexual relationship I was having with him – do I have a claim?”
If, in asking ‘what can I do’, you’re asking whether you can bring a claim against your previous employer and/or your previous boss in the circumstances, this will depend on a number of factual and legal issues – we’ll address these below. From an analysis of your question, it appears that you have the following potential claims against your previous employer and/or previous boss:
- Unfair dismissal
- Notice pay
- Direct sex discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Gender-related harassment
In order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal you must have been an employee of the law firm and have been employed continuously by the firm for at least two years to the date of your dismissal. Assuming that these criteria are satisfied, whether your dismissal would be fair or not would depend upon the reason that your previous employer gave for your dismissal, whether a fair disciplinary procedure was followed prior to your dismissal, whether you were allowed to appeal against your dismissal, and whether the decision-maker reasonably and genuinely believed you should be dismissed based on the allegations put to you. We would therefore need to collect further information from you in order to determine the prospects of success of an unfair dismissal claim.
Whether you would succeed on this claim would depend on whether you were contractually-entitled upon the termination of your employment to be paid your notice pay. Again, we would need more information to be able to give you our opinion on the prospects of success of a claim for notice pay.
Direct sex discrimination
In order to succeed with a claim for direct sex discrimination you would need to show that, in being dismissed, you were treated less favourably than a comparable male employee had been treated or would be treated. There is a substantial amount of precedent (for example, B v A  UKEAT/0450/06/0901 and Martin v. Lancehawk Ltd (t/a European Telecom Solutions)  UKEAT/0525/03/2203) to suggest that it would be difficult for you to succeed with a claim for direct sex discrimination in the circumstances, as you would need to show that a homosexual male employee would not have been dismissed if they had ended a sexual relationship with their homosexual male boss.
If you were subjected to any unwanted sexual conduct by your boss after you ended the relationship then you may have a claim for sexual harassment – again, further information would be needed to give you a view on the prospects of success of such a claim.
If you were subjected to any unwanted conduct related to your gender by your boss after you ended the relationship then you may have a claim for gender-related harassment – again, and not to sound like the proverbial ‘broken record’, we would need further information in order to advise you on the prospects of success of such a claim.
If you filed a grievance against your boss (formal or informal, verbal or written) because of any discrimination or harassment that you believed you had suffered from him and were then subjected to any detriment then you would have a claim for victimisation if you could show that the detriment you suffered was because of the complaint you made. Again, further information would be needed on this point.