One reason or another
It can be easy to focus on complicated legal issues and allow the basics to slip. The recent judgment of Logan v Celyn House serves as a good refresher of one basic element of constructive dismissal: what happens when there is more than one reason behind the employee resigning?
The case concerned a Claimant who resigned because of various issues which included, amongst others, a failure to pay sick pay and bullying. The Employment Tribunal found that the bullying the Claimant was alleging was something she had imagined. When the Tribunal came to consider the issue of constructive dismissal, they found that the principal reason for the resignation was the fictitious bullying and so, as this was an unproven allegation, the Tribunal rejected her claim.
The Claimant appealed and the Employment Appeal Tribunal found in her favour. It was held that it was wrong to look for a ‘principal’ reason; the question that should have been asked is whether the breach of contract was a reason for the resignation. As she was relying on her employer's failure to pay her sick pay correctly as a reason for her constructive dismissal, and this is a repudiatory breach, she had been constructively dismissed.
When there is more than one reason behind an employee resigning that does not stop an employee from claiming unfair dismissal. It is necessary that the employee resigned in response, at least in part, to a fundamental breach by the employer. It is not necessary for the repudiatory breach or breaches to be the sole reason behind the resignation.