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Hotel general manager loses dismissal compensation claim

Hotel general manager loses dismissal compensation claim

Sunday 07 November 2021

Hotel general manager loses dismissal compensation claim

Sunday 07 November 2021

The former general manager of The Inn on Queen’s Road has lost her claim of constructive unfair dismissal after a tribunal found she had actually resigned of her own volition.

Lynne Dunham claimed that had been forced out of her job by the hotel’s Managing Director Stephen Clipp after she expressed her unwillingness to change her hours of work.

However, the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal ruled that Mr Clipp’s actions had been reasonable.

In its judgment, the Tribunal said it was evident that the parties had a good working relationship for many years and there was no dispute that that Ms Dunham was committed, hardworking and performed all the tasks asked of her well.

The relationship became strained when Ms Dunham returned to work in late October 2020 after a period of sick leave. 

Mr Clipp, who had assumed many of Ms Dunham’s duties during her absence, wanted to her to change her hours to cover more evenings and weekends.

This was against the backdrop of the pandemic.

On 5 January this year, Mr Clipp asked again. Ms Dunham refused, explaining why and saying she was always on call and said if she had to change her hours she would resign.

This she did in a letter dated 1 February, which stated: “My reasoning behind this is due to the change in working hours that you have advised you would like.”

In its judgment, the Tribunal writes: “It was clear that the Managing Director [Mr Clipp] wanted changes to be made, which, in the circumstances, does not appear to be unreasonable, and was evident that he thought those changes should involve the Claimant [Ms Dunham] working different hours. 

“However, no specific alternative working hours were set, nor were any changes to the Claimant’s working hours implemented. 

“While it was inappropriate for the Managing Director to get angry and shout when discussing the proposed changes, an apology was given and constructive discussion in relation to the changes appears to have been held after this. 

“The Managing Director then specified in writing that any changes should be mutually agreeable. Accordingly, the Tribunal is not satisfied that there was any breach of contract in relation to a change to working hours.”

It added that: “The Tribunal is of the view that, while these specific actions of the Managing Director would have had an impact upon the relationship between the parties [which included him being “angry and aggressive” towards her, which he denied], considering the surrounding circumstances, the Tribunal is not persuaded that the Managing Director’s actions were sufficient to seriously damage or destroy the mutual trust and confidence between the parties so that the relationship could not continue as it had before.”

It concluded: “Accordingly, it has been found that there was no breach of any express or implied term of the contract. 

“This being the case, a claim for constructive dismissal cannot succeed and it is not necessary for the Tribunal to consider the remainder of the test for constructive dismissal. 

“The Claimant is held to have resigned of her own volition, there was no dismissal and the claim for unfair dismissal fails.”

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