Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.
If an employee’s solicitor informs her of her dismissal a day before the employee reads a dismissal letter, is the effective date of termination the date that the solicitor tells her?
Yes, held the EAT in Robinson v Fairhill Medical Practice (HHJ Burke QC).
The Claimant did not attend a disciplinary hearing and was communicating with her employer through a solicitor due to illness. The employer emailed the solicitor on 6th July to inform her that the Claimant was to be summarily dismissed; the solicitor told the employee of the decision on 7th July; the employee read the dismissal letter on 8th July. At a pre-hearing review, an employment tribunal held that the effective date of termination was 7th July, so the claim for unfair dismissal was struck out as out of time as the claim was presented a day late on 7th October.
The EAT considered the Supreme Court’s decision in Gisda Cyf v Barratt, that dismissal is effective when it is communicated to an employee or she has a reasonable opportunity to know of it, and held that communication of dismissal through a third party suffices, so, as the effective date of termination was 7th July, the Claimant’s appeal failed.
The EAT upheld the appeal against the decision to dismiss the Claimant’s disability discrimination claim as out of time, noting that the fault of the Claimant’s adviser ought not to be held against her as a factor on whether it was just and equitable to extend time, and substituted its own decision for that of the employment tribunal.