Case Study: Redundancy and Unfair Dismissal. A Witness can make all the difference.
We were consulted by an individual who felt that he had been unfairly selected for redundancy.
His employer, a large manufacturing company, decided to restructure one of its factory operations and as part of this process, having taken advice from its Human Resources department, it decided that, once it had created the new structure, it would, as far as it conceivably could, job-match individuals from the previous structure to the vacancies within the new structure.
Individuals who were job-matched were then slotted into the new structure and any individual who was not job-matched were invited to apply for unmatched positions within the new structure.
In respect of our client, whilst he was perturbed that he had not been matched to any of the positions within the new structure, even though he felt that his skill-set matched a number of jobs within the new structure perfectly, he was willing to go along with the re-interview process.
Accordingly, he filled out the application forms and submitted his CV in the normal way for two positions.
Unfortunately for him, when we attended at the interview, which was being conducted by a member of his employer’s Human Resources department, he found himself being subjected to an extremely rigorous and unpleasant interviewing process which he felt unprepared for and which left him feeling slightly shaken.
He felt, after the interviews, that perhaps he had approached them in a slightly naïve manner and had not prepared sufficiently, possibly being lulled into a false sense of security because the interviews were, of course, internal interviews.
In any event, after the rigorous and unpleasant interview experience, he learned that he had not been successful and his redundancy was then confirmed.
The All Important Witness
Meanwhile, during the remainder of his employment before his dismissal, he was fortunate enough to learn from a fellow colleague that a member of the Board had indicated that he did not see that our client had a future within the organisation and had, believe it or not, specifically instructed the HR department not to hire our client irrespective of his performance in the interviews. This instruction, our client argues, clearly influenced the way in which the HR department conducted the interview with our client; it was a foregone conclusion that he would not be offered the position!
Thankfully for our client, the colleague who had witnessed the comments from the Director felt so strongly about the unfairness towards our client that indicated that he would be willing to swear, under oath, that he was a witness to the Director’s instruction to HR to dismiss our client, by way of redundancy, at any costs.
It was this witness’s willingness to come forward which assisted us greatly in securing a good out of court settlement on behalf of our client.
This case demonstrated the conniving methodology used by ruthless employers to dismiss employees and then dress the dismissals up as redundancies.
In any other case, without the crucial witness evidence, it would have been impossible to take the case forward and succeed at Tribunal.
This case also demonstrates that it is essential that employers, when considering restructures and redundancies, ensure a level playing field for all employees and to ensure that not only appropriate pools of employees are considered but also that any fair selection criteria is applied to all employees in a fair manner.