The fundamental importance of the appeal stage of a dismissal has been reinforced recently by the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision in Baldeh v Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District Ltd.
Mrs Baldeh, a housing support worker, was dismissed by her employer at the end of a six month probationary period as a result of poor performance. Several concerns had been raised about Mrs Baldeh’s blunt communication style and tone when speaking with colleagues and service users. She subsequently appealed against the decision and informed her employer that she suffered from depression which affected her behaviour and caused short-term memory lapses. When Mrs Baldeh’s appeal failed, she brought a claim for discrimination arising from disability.
Overturning the Employment Tribunal’s original decision, the EAT held that the outcome of an appeal is “integral to the overall decision to dismiss” and therefore the failure to consider whether Mrs Baldeh’s behaviour was affected by her disability could render the dismissal discriminatory.
The EAT also confirmed that it is not necessary for an employee to prove that the main reason for dismissal was the “something arising in consequence” of their disability. It is enough if the “something” had a material influence on the decision to dismiss. The case has been remitted back to the Employment Tribunal to consider the issues.
How does this case affect you?
Employers need to be aware that a dismissal isn’t final until the appeal stage is finished and any new information disclosed must be taken into account, particularly where previously unknown conditions may explain the conduct in question.
If you’d like a helping hand with an appeal or any other employment or HR process, please contact us.