Wigan Council unfairly dismisses longstanding employee18 November 2014
Thompsons Solicitors and UNISON secure more than £72,000 in compensation for former employee of Wigan Council following unfair dismissal
A Wigan Council marketing officer has won a case against her employer for unfair dismissal with the help of UNISON and Thompsons Solicitors.
During a reorganisation of her department by the Council to cut their operating costs, the 43-year-old was made to re-apply for the job she had been carrying out to a high standard for three years and was then dismissed by reason of redundancy, when her reapplication was unsuccessful.
An employment tribunal ruled that Wigan Council should not have dismissed the woman because the new position was so similar to her marketing officer role that it did not constitute a true redundancy situation.
It was also found that the Council’s reason for not appointing her – that she scored below the competency bar in an assessed interview and test – was not in keeping with their own policies, which made no mention of a competency bar and, in actual fact, emphasised the importance of retaining employees wherever possible.
After she was dismissed, she contacted UNISON who referred her to Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim on her behalf. The employment tribunal awarded her just over £72,000 in compensation for loss of earnings and pension benefits, on top of her expenses for attending the hearing. The sum is the highest possible amount the tribunal could have awarded in these circumstances.
She said: “Being dismissed was devastating. I had worked for Wigan Council in various roles for 21 years and I knew I did a good job. I originally wanted to appeal the decision but you can only appeal after your notice has been formally served and my notice wasn't served for five weeks.
“During the five-week wait my emotional state deteriorated. I was crying every day. I knew I did a good job but being dismissed made me feel worthless.”
Neal Linksy, UNISON Regional Organiser, said: “The Council’s failures have cost them a lot of money. They started from the position that they needed to save money but instead they have unnecessarily and unfairly disposed of a longstanding and highly able employee, resulting in a significant payout that has cost them – and the taxpayer - tens of thousands of pounds.”
Jamie Humphries, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “It is astonishing that the Council thought it right that our client should have to re-apply for the job she was already doing and then thought it right to dismiss her when she scored just below a competency bar of which the Council’s own Redeployment Procedure made no mention.
“We are happy to have been able to work with UNISON to secure the maximum amount of compensation possible and we hope this goes some way to help our client in dealing with the financial stress that her premature dismissal has cost her.”