BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Workplace rights - Don't be too dismissive

BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Workplace rights - Don't be too dismissive - If you thought firing someone legally was difficult, the process could get even harder after a recent House of Lords ruling in the case of Johnson v Unisys. Before

by MICHAEL BURD and JAMES DAVIES, Lewis Silkin solicitors,e-mail: iemployment@lewissilkin.com
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

If you thought firing someone legally was difficult, the process could get even harder after a recent House of Lords ruling in the case of Johnson v Unisys. Before this case, the courts' stock response to those claiming compensation for the humiliation or distress they felt as a result of being shown the door was 'too bad'. While accepting that damages cannot be claimed for embarrassment felt in examples of breach of contract (or wrongful dismissal), however, the Lords hinted that a more flexible approach must be taken to unfair dismissal claims. Lord Hoffman has ruled there is no reason why unfair dismissal awards shouldn't include 'compensation for distress, humiliation, damage to reputation in the community or to family life'. The huge payouts for 'injury to feelings' in many discrimination and harassment cases could lead to higher tribunal awards if employment terminations are handled insensitively.

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