Case Review: Driver of multi-millionaire wins claim for unfair dismissal

In what has become known as the “give a dog a bone” employment case, Ivor James, aged 60, was a driver for multi-millionaire Raymond Mould in Gloucestershire.

Mr James was sacked during a 12-minute telephone call from his employer, after he fed a piece of gristle to Mr Mould’s Labrador. He was informed that a bone has been found in the stomach of the dog, Merlin, which had been found as the dog was undergoing surgery for another issue in a veterinary hospital in Solihull, West Midlands.

Mr Mould, with a worth of some £60m, told an employment tribunal he was “furious” after discovering that Mr James had fed the Labrador a bone.

Mr James, who had worked for Mr Mould since September 2009, denied he had fed the dog a bone, but had simply given the Labrador a gristly piece of meat.

The Employment Tribunal Judge found that the Gloucestershire property tycoon had acted unreasonably in dismissing his driver, ruling that Mr Mould had failed to ask sufficient questions about the incident before rushing to judgement, and that “Simply picking up the phone and telling somebody that they are sacked is not a way any reasonable employer would behave.”

Tom Street of comments, “Employers need to be careful as to when and how they decide to sack an employee. For example, we have had several examples of employers sacking employees without any notice, or even firing them by text message.”