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Unfair dismissal due to trade union activities

In the recent case of Cadent Gas Ltd v Singh the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a tribunal decision that an employee was automatically unfairly dismissed because of his trade union activities despite the fact that the disciplinary and appeal officers were not motivated by his union activities.

The Claimant was a health and safety trade union representative and a key element of his case was that the manager who conducted the disciplinary investigation into allegations of gross misconduct (which were unconnected to his union activities) was hostile towards the union of which the Claimant was part. There had also been historical tension between the two in relation to the Claimant’s trade union activities.

Although it was considered that neither the disciplinary nor the appeal officers were motivated in their decision-making by the employee’s union activities, it was found that the investigating manager had referred to the Claimant’s union status in his investigation and, amongst other things, had given incorrect information to HR and the dismissing officer. The decision to dismiss was therefore found to be attributable to the Claimant’s union activities.

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a tribunal decision that an employee was automatically unfairly dismissed because of his trade union activities.

This case highlights the high degree of risk in trade union cases and employers must be aware of the serious implications if an employee is dismissed or subjected to a detriment because of their involvement in, or connection to, a trade union. Employers must also be aware that such cases do not require a minimum length of service, compensation for such dismissals is uncapped and serious reputational damage could be caused if a Claimant is successful.

If you have any concerns regarding trade union matters, please contact a member of our team who will be happy to assist.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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