Failure to follow proper grievance process may breach trust and confidence duty

The claimant in Blackburn v Aldi Stores Ltd raised a grievance about a number of issues, including health and safety, training and an allegation that a deputy manager had sworn at him on two occasions. The employer’s written grievance procedure required grievances to be handled by a section manager, with appeals to be notified to the next level of management in writing.

The grievance was handled by the regional managing director (RMD) who accepted certain aspects but rejected the allegations of abuse. The claimant appealed against the decision in a letter to the RMD, with a copy to the group managing director. The RMD dismissed the appeal after a 20-minute meeting.

The claimant resigned and brought a claim for constructive unfair dismissal, arguing that the employer had breached the implied duty of trust and confidence by, among other things, denying him a proper appeal against the grievance decision, given that the same person had heard both the original grievance and the subsequent appeal…

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