|September 5, 2012|
Previously published on August 31, 2012
In Assamoi v Spirit Pub Company (Services) Ltd (UKEAT/0050/11), the EAT held that an employer who upheld an employee's grievance against his manager had prevented the situation amounting to a repudiatory breach of mutual trust and confidence. The employee's constructive unfair dismissal claim was therefore rejected.
Mr Assamoi worked as a chef in a pub run by Spirit. He was suspended by his manager for failing to attend work and a company meeting without authorised leave. In fact, Mr Assamoi had been on annual leave pre-approved by his manager. An investigatory meeting was held in which it was accepted that Mr Assamoi had not been required to attend work or the meeting. No further action was taken. Mr Assamoi resigned and claimed constructive dismissal on the basis that his manager had conducted a malicious disciplinary process against him which had destroyed the mutual trust and confidence between him and his employer.
Both the Tribunal and EAT held in favour of Spirit. Mr Assamoi's manager had behaved badly but his conduct was not serious enough to justify Mr Assamoi's resignation. The fair conduct of the subsequent investigation prevented the situation from escalating into a breach of trust and confidence. It remains the case that that once a repudiatory breach has occurred, this cannot be cured. However, this case illustrates that the careful handling of a grievance can prevent a situation developing into a breach of trust and confidence.