Employee grievances — handle with care

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In Martin v Devonshires Solicitors, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that it was not victimisation to dismiss an employee who had raised a number of unfounded grievances against her employer alleging sex discrimination.

According to the EAT, there were a number of factors leading to the decision to dismiss that were ‘properly and genuinely separable’ from the fact that the complaints had been made. These included the fact that the claimant’s allegations were linked to mental illness and that it was likely that similar allegations would be made in the future. The dismissal of the claimant because of a breakdown in the employment relationship caused by the grievances was not an act of victimisation.

Last week, another EAT decision, Woodhouse v West North West Homes Leeds Ltd, reminded employers that the decision in Martin is applicable only in truly exceptional circumstances. The mere fact that an employee has raised a number of grievances over a period of time is not in itself exceptional…

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