I’ve been sacked! – Unfair Dismissal – Employment Law

You’re fired – a saying made famous and used more recently by the U.S President Donald Trump when he “terminated” the employment of FBI Director, James Coomey. The termination has caused shockwaves in the States considering Coomey was currently investigating the ties to Russia with the Trump’s presidential campaign.

If your employment has been “terminated” and you feel that your dismissal has been unfair it’s incredibly important to act quickly. Being aware of what needs to happen and by when, can become a major tool in your belt should you ever be in the position of an unjustifiable dismissal. Your employer needs to make sure it meets the following criteria before dismissing you:

  • A fair reason that they can justify such as conduct, capability or redundancy
  • Acted reasonably in the circumstances

They must also

  • Be consistent with the dismissal reasoning and procedure and have investigated the situation beforehand.

This is not only for full time employees but also part time and fixed term workers.


I have been sacked - What next?

Fired Man

First things first, you should seek professional advice to see if you have a claim for unfair dismissal. (We cover this later)

There are strict deadlines for submitting a claim for unfair dismissal, usually within 3 months of your employment ending or the problem happening. You should also ask for a written statement from your employer giving you the reasons for your dismissal. (Your employer must give you this if you have completed 2 years’ service)

In the event of an unfair dismissal you will be able to file an employment tribunal claim.

Employment Tribunal claim

An employer would need a fair reason for dismissal which could be for any of the fair reasons listed below:

  • Capability
  • Conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Breach of statute
  • Some other substantial reason

If the employer can show a potentially fair reason for dismissal you may still have a claim if the employer fails to show a fair procedure.


Causes for dismissal

‘Discrimination was a factor when I was fired’

Discrimination can be an issue with many people for many different reasons. Sometimes discrimination can be misunderstood and cause confusion about what legally counts and what doesn’t. Here’s a list of the protected characteristics on which people may be discriminated against in the workplace:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership    
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Discriminatory treatment can range from a one-off act or comment to a prolonged series of bullying and unfair treatment. Under current employment legislation, the different forms of discrimination are classified as follows:

Direct discrimination – For example, paying someone less because of their sex or overlooking someone for a promotion because of their race.

Indirect discrimination – For example, a requirement that an applicant for a job has 20 years experience in the field could represent indirect discrimination on the grounds of age if it can not be justified.

Victimisation – For example, a person who raises a grievance about discriminatory treatment is then continually refused a pay-rise.

Harassment – For example, a manager continually makes inappropriate comments regarding a colleague’s appearance.

Aside from discrimination there are many more reasons in which a unfair dismissal could take place, some examples are listed below:

  • Refused to give up your working time rights – working longer or through breaks
  • Went on Strike
  • You have decided to join a trade union
  • Compulsory retirement – being forced to retire
  • If you were on maternity or paternity leave
  • Whistleblowing in the workplace

Whether or not you have been a victim of unfair dismissal it’s vitally important to seek help as soon as possible. If you leave it too long a case may be dismissed meaning you lose the right to bring a claim.


How can I protect my business against a claim?

For employer's who have disruptive employees or have a legitimate reason for needing to dismiss an employee you should not fear doing this. Whilst the law protects employees from being unfairly dismissed, it does recognise that there are occasions when an employee is dismissed for a fair reason. Our advice to employers is to make sure your employment contracts and staff handbooks are fully up to date and compliant.

“It's important that an employer follows a fair and reasonable procedure when dismissing an employee. Having fair grounds on which to dismiss is not enough in itself and a Tribunal will look at the resources available to an employer in determining whether the procedure followed is fair and reasonable. Unfairly dismissing an employee can be costly as the employee can claim compensation for the loss of their earnings for up to 12 months losses. This is subject to the Tribunal cap but none the less is an expense many employers would like to avoid.” Sara Ellison, Head of Employment Law

Sara is an experienced Employment Lawyer and deals with all aspects of employment law and advises a wide range of individuals and private, public and third sector clients with regards to employment law and HR issues. Sara's specialism includes unfair dismissal and discrimination. Sara participates in the delivery of our Charity/not for profit sector HR forums and runs interactive HR Workshops for our business clients, providing invaluable information and updates.





About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

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