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Dismissal and Breakdown of Trust

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Thorn In My Side: Dismissal for Breakdown of Trust:

‘Thorn in my side, You know that’s all you ever were’ sang Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics, and some employers might echo those words.


Had Annie Lennox been legally minded, she might have asked whether it is possible for an employer to dismiss an employee, not because of misconduct or poor performance, but due to a breakdown of trust between the parties.


Last year in Ezsias v North Glamorgan NHS Trust (in which a surgeon openly criticised the clinical standards and relentlessly complained about colleagues) the EAT held that where the employee has caused a fundamental and irretrievable breakdown of trust and confidence in relations between himself and colleagues, but is dismissed because of the actual breakdown rather than the conduct causing it, then the dismissal is not for reasons of conduct. It is, instead, for “some other substantial reason”. The conduct will, however, be a pertinent consideration when deciding the appropriate disciplinary procedures to be adopted.


In Leach v OFCOM this month (in which the employee was dismissed for allegedly committing child abuse in Cambodia), the Court of Appeal held that an employee cannot always be dismissed for ‘breakdown of trust’, as it depends on the particular circumstances. Although mutual trust and confidence is at the heart of employment relationship, breach of trust is not an easy label to rely on to dismiss an employee when other lawful reasons for dismissal do not arise.


If problems with an employee bring Annie Lennox’s words irresistibly to mind, then get legal advice as this is a particularly tricky area to navigate.


Talk to us today to get advice from London Employment Solicitors and Lawyers.

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