Employment & HR - colourful people chain image

Reasons for dismissal – Principal or secondary?

If there is more than one reason behind an employee’s decision to resign and claim unfair constructive dismissal, does the principal reason for the dismissal need to be a fundamental breach of the employee’s contact of employment for their claim to succeed? Not according to the EAT’s decision in the case of Logan v Celyn House Ltd. The claimant was employed as a veterinary nurse who resigned from her role as she had lodged a grievance and was not happy with the outcome. There were several issues raised in the grievance including alleged bullying and a failure by the employer to pay contractual sick leave. The Employment Tribunal found that her claim that she was being bullied was unfounded but did agree that the failure to pay contractual sick leave was a fundamental breach of contract. This would have entitled her to claim constructive dismissal however the Tribunal decided that the principal reason for her resignation was in fact the alleged bullying. Therefore they rejected her claim for constructive dismissal.

The employee appealed the decision and the case went to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. They decided that the Tribunal had erred in deciding that because the fundamental breach of contract (the failure to pay sick leave) was not the principal reason, the claim failed completely. They stated that instead the tribunal should have asked itself 1) whether there was a fundamental breach of contract; and 2) whether it was a reason for the resignation, irrespective of whether it was the principal reason. The employee’s claim could succeed so long as their resignation was at least partly due to a fundamental breach of their employment contract.