Copyright Moore Barlow LLP (Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins merged May 2020)

Employer claim response too generic

Upton-Hansen Architects v Gyftaki

This case is a timely reminder that the onus is on employers to prove that there was a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee.

This case concerns Ms Gyftaki, who requested annual leave in addition to her contractual holiday entitlement which she had already used. Confusion arose as to whether or not Ms Gyftaki has been granted this additional leave.  Her request for additional leave was eventually refused late at night before she was due to travel. The notice was so late, Ms Gyftaki went ahead with her travels.

Consequently, Ms Gyftaki was suspended which led Ms Gyftaki to resign and submit an unfair dismissal claim.

Her employer consequently suspended her, so Ms Gyftaki resigned and submitted a compliant to the tribunal complaining that she had been constructively dismissed.

In response, her employer denied the claim, only stating that “Save as expressly admitted, all the Claimant’s claims are denied in their entirety”.

The employers “generic denial” was not sufficient to identify what the employer’s case was if constructive dismissal was found. Accordingly, the employer’s appeal (that the tribunal erred in deciding that there was no potentially fair reason) was dismissed.

Legal opinion

This is a reminder that a response to a claim needs to deal with the issues in dispute in sufficient detail in order for the matter to be properly considered by the tribunal. Employers need to be aware that the burden of proof is on them to show that there was a potentially fair reason to dismiss.

There are usually time deadlines as to when responses need to be lodged, so if you are defending any claim, make sure to contact us as soon as possible if you need expert legal advice to prepare effective responses. This can ensure you are in the strongest position to defend any claim.


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