Normally, an unfair dismissal claim can only be pursued where, as a matter of fact, the employer has dismissed the employee. Until then, an employment tribunal will not have jurisdiction to consider a claim.
An exception to that general rule occurs where the behaviour of the employer is such that the employee is entitled to resign from their employment and bring a claim of constructive dismissal. The employer’s conduct is said to amount to such a fundamental breach of the employment contract that it amounts to dismissal.
These cases are often high risk and complicated. They involve an employee gambling immediate future pay and still some measure of job security to leave what they find to be a hostile environment and hope to recover compensation for their losses.
For employers, these are potential claims to try and avoid when dealing with particularly difficult staff problems such as long-term sickness absence, allegations of bullying or harassment amongst staff or complicated disciplinary proceedings.
We have long experience in this difficult area including for example a case that was contested at every level and the subject of two appeals – to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal – although our client was successful at every stage.
Webster v Woodhouse School  EWCA began with the resignation of a care home manager who had been given an instruction which, if acted upon, would have constituted an act of direct unlawful discrimination. The case also involved issues of covert recording of meetings and ultimately the Court of Appeal had to consider the perversity or otherwise of the earlier decisions and points of procedure on appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
As in other dismissal cases, but more so here, there are traps for the unwary and the sooner we are instructed the better your prospects, whichever side you are on. Email us or telephone 01460 200450.