Unfair dismissal following “sham” redundancy
A Muslim bank worker made redundant after his relationship with his bosses became “severely strained” following an incident in which he called them on Christmas Day was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.
The Judge Joffe said that the employer (a bank) reached the view that they no longer required the claimant who was head of real estate, “because they had come to dislike him”, and “so far as the claimant was concerned the redundancy consultation was a ‘cosmetic exercise’”.
During his tenure as head of real estate, the claimant’s relationship with his line manager, grew strained and an email exchange between the two continued into Christmas Day. The line manager responded with an email stating “Do you realise that for many today is a festive period and your emails could have waited until after tomorrow. Please think about this” and copied in the executive committee team.
On 4 June, following a downturn in a particular project of which the claimant was a part, it was felt that a team restructure was necessary, which would include letting the claimant go.
Email exchanges which were part of the evidence at the employment tribunal demonstrated that the claimant had been singled out and referred to the email on Christmas Day.
When ruling, the Judge said that the emails showed that the process had been engineered to remove the claimant and that the redundancy was a sham.
The claimant was awarded £20,134.25 for unfair dismissal. This demonstrates the need for careful and discreet communication between managers at all times, but in particular when restructuring exercises are planned.