You are the judge - swearing manager


This is the first in our new series of situational assessments, called 'You are the judge'. We take everyday situations which have a legal aspect to them, and ask you to work out what you think the result will be in the eyes of the law.

What do you think of this unfair dismissal situation?


A manager in a small company had a bad day and swore at one of their employees. The employee decided to leave work early, rather than continue to be sworn at. When the employee came back into work the next day, they were told to clear out their desk and leave.

They had been with the company for 13 months and never had a problem before. They want to claim for unfair dismissal, but the company is backing its manager and says they were within their rights to terminate the contract. Who is in the right in the eyes of the law?

The answer:

It's all in the detail. Technically the company is in the wrong - an employee who has been with them for 13 months cannot be dismissed without notice unless they commit an act of gross misconduct, which doesn't seem to be the case here.

However, whilst the dismissal breached the contract, the employee cannot claim the dismissal was unfair until they have been with the company for two years (unless of course the dismissal was based on an automatically unfair reason such as discrimination, maternity or trade union membership).

This is more a case of wrongful dismissal, in which terms of the contract were broken. The employee would be awarded the money at a tribunal for their notice period, but unfortunately for them, that's it.

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