Incompetent employer does not necessarily make a dismissal unfair.
Employment solicitors who act for respondents are probably all breathing a sigh of relief following a decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The case in question (Osoba v Chief Constable of Herts) related to a claim for unfair dismissal and age discrimination following a redundancy proceedings. The issue in this case revolved around the scoring matrix that was used by the employer to decide who was going to be made redundant.
The Claimant argued that the some of the questions that were used led to an inference that those closer to retirement age would be treated differently than younger employees of the organisation. In circumstances such as this the Respondent then has to show that any different treatment was based not on the protected characteristic (in this case age) but for some other reason.
The Respondent argued that it was just an honest mistake made by the employer when constructing the points matrix for the redundancy proceedings. The Tribunal despite calling the work of the employer “at it’s best inconsistent, shambolic in places and lacking in competence” decided that just because the work was incompetent it doesn’t make the actions of them discriminatory towards the Claimant and it was an honest attempt to try and be fair.
Following this the Claimant appealed the decision obviously thinking that it’s unfair for an incompetent employer to get away with such a thing. Unfortunately for all employment solicitors representing Claimants the decision by the Tribunal was upheld by the Appeal tribunal. They did indeed view the actions by the employer as just an honest mistake and that there was no unconscious decision by the employer to discriminate against the employee. They had made a mistake and had put their hands up to it and there was nothing more they could do about it.
If you have been dismissed or discriminated against and you feel that it is more than mere incompetence on the part of your employer please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 014 8727. One of our team will be able to advise you on the merits of your case and whether our employment solicitors will be able to assist on a potentially no win no fee basis.