employment law Resources

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Employment Law Cases

Welcome to our Employment Law Cases. We have provided these employment law cases to help you with your employment law essays and dissertations.

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Richmond Adult Community College v McDougall [2008] EWCA Civ 4

Disability discrimination – assessment of disability – likelihood of disability recurring

M had suffered from psychological disorders but recovered after medical treatment. M was offered a job as a database assistant for the College. When the College learned of M's medical history it withdrew the offer. M brought a disability discrimination claim.

The employment tribunal accepted that M had a mental impairment but held that she was not disabled within the meaning of section 1 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as the impairment did not have a substantial and long-term adverse effect and there was no evidence that the condition was likely to recur.

The EAT reversed the decision, stating that the tribunal ought to have taken into account medical evidence between the date of the discrimination and the hearing of the claim, which showed a relapse.

The College appealed on the basis that when considering whether the effect of a medical condition was likely to recur the employer had to base its decision on the circumstances existing at that date, and that what actually happened after that date was not relevant to the tribunal's decision.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. On the facts, there was no evidence at the time of the decision that M's condition was likely to recur. The tribunal should only consider evidence available at the relevant time.


Enfield Technical Services Ltd v Payne; Grace v BF Components Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 393

Illegality in employment contracts

Contracts generally may be void for illegality. In the employment sphere, if the contract is void for illegality then the ‘employee' will not be able to claim for breach of that contract, for example in cases of wrongful dismissal, or for unfair dismissal. The nature of the illegality necessary to render the employee outwith of employment protection was considered by the Court of Appeal.

The appellant employers in these joined proceedings appealed against an EAT decision that the employees had not acted illegally in the performance of their contracts The employees (P and G) had worked on a self employed basis and were treated as such by the Inland Revenue. They later claimed unfair dismissal, arguing that they were really employees, rather than self-employed.

The EAT found that they were employees but had believed in good faith that they were self-employed and had not made misrepresentation to the Inland Revenue, and were entitled to claim unfair dismissal. The employers claimed that as the employees had participated in an illegal performance of the contract, they were not entitled to protection.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The employees were entitled to claim unfair dismissal. The employees had committed ‘insufficient' illegality. A contract of employment may be unlawfully performed if there are misrepresentations as to facts. However, that is distinguishable from an error of categorisation which is unaccompanied by false representations, as had occurred in this case.


O'Hanlon v HM Revenue & Customs [2007] EWCA Civ 283

Disability-related discrimination – reduction in pay because of sickness absence

The claimant was clinically depressed, making him ‘disabled' for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The employer's sick pay rules provided that anyone absent through sickness would receive full pay for 26 weeks in any four-year period, and thereafter half pay for the next 26 weeks, and thereafter the pension rate. The claimant had lengthy absences related to her disability.  She claimed that she should be given full pay during her absence as that failure to do this amounted to disability-related discrimination.

The EAT stated that it would be rare for a duty to make reasonable adjustments to entail a requirement that a disabled absent employee be paid more than a non-disabled absent employee. It held that the reduction was disability-related discrimination but that it was justified, as the suggested adjustment of increasing sick pay was not an adjustment that a reasonable employer would be required to make.

The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, agreeing with the reasoning of the EAT.


Blundell v Governing Body of St Andrew's Catholic Primary School [2007] IRLR 652

Maternity leave – right to return to work – ‘same job'

The claimant teacher had taught a reception class before taking maternity leave. Upon her return, she was offered a role either as a floating teacher or taking a class of older children. The claimant took the role of teaching older children, but considered it to be a particularly onerous duty, as she had not previously taught that age-group, who were subject to national assessment tests. The claimant argued that the employer had committed acts of less favourable treatment towards her due to her pregnancy, and that the employer had failed to return her to the same job.

The tribunal dismissed the claim, finding no detriment, as the claimant was contractually required to teach whatever class she was allocated. The job in which she had previously been employed was that of teacher, not of reception class teacher.

The EAT held that the right to return to ‘the job in which she was employed before her absence' provided by Reg 18 of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations1999 meant that the employee should be able to return to a work situation as near as possible to that which she left. In this case the return post was within the normal range of variability which the claimant could reasonably have expected.


Pay v Lancashire Probation Service [2004] ICR 187; Pay v UK [2009] IRLR 139

Unfair dismissal – reason for dismissal – some other substantial reason – sexual behaviour outside work - respect for private life (Article 8 ECHR)

The claimant was involved in the sale of products connected with BDSM and performing in fetish clubs. Photographs were available on the internet of him involved in these activities. The claimant was a probation officer working with sex offenders. The employer dismissed him on the basis that his activities were inconsistent with the role of probation officer. The claimant claimed unfair dismissal, relying on his Article 8 ECHR right to respect for private life.

The EAT held that section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 should be interpreted as including ‘having regard to the applicant's Convention rights' but that Article 8 was not engaged because the activities were in the public domain, as photographs were available on the internet and the activities took place in fetish clubs. The claimant's activities were therefore not ‘private'.

The case was heard before the European Court of Human Rights as Pay v UK. The ECtHR adopted a different approach, finding that conduct occurring outside a purely private place could still fall within the protection of Article 8 as ‘private life'. The court was content to continue on the basis that the claimant's Article 8 right was engaged. However, it found that any interference with his right was justified.