Winckworth Sherwood

UK 200 2013 position: 94

The importance of being impartial: Blackburn v Aldi Stores

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled in the case of Blackburn v Aldi Stores that a failure to provide an impartial grievance process can amount to a breach of the duty of trust and confidence.

Mr Blackburn brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair constructive dismissal. He argued that Aldi’s failure to provide him with an impartial appeal of his grievance amounted to a breach of the duty of trust and confidence. There was a separate issue as to whether the grievance procedure itself was contractual. Mr Blackburn’s grievance raised various issues concerning health and safety, a lack of training and unacceptable treatment at the hands of some of Aldi’s managers.

His employer had a written grievance procedure, which provided that the grievance should be determined by the logistics director. As it happened, there was no logistics director and so the managing director for his region, Mr Heatherington, investigated and determined the grievance…

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