The Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Turner v East Midlands Trains (2012) EWCA civ 1470 CA, that unfair dismissal law is compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
East Midland Trains dismissed a senior train conductor for ticketing irregularities arising from her issuing tickets from a computerised ticket machine service. Ms Turner was dismissed by East Midlands Trains after 12 years’ employment after they drew the inference, by using statistics, that she had been fraudulently selling tickets to the public and dishonestly keeping the proceeds. There was, however, no direct evidence that this was the case and Ms Turner denied these allegations. She demonstrated a number of reasons why the statistics they had drawn the inference from may have been inaccurate or misleading.
Ms Turner lost her claim of unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal and at the EAT. The Tribunal applied the band of reasonable responses test to the fairness of the employer’s investigation and to the employer’s decision to dismiss Ms Turner and found her dismissal to be fair.
Ms Turner took her appeal to the Court of Appeal arguing that Article 8 of the ECHR (right to respect for private and family life) was relevant and that therefore stricter procedural requirements should have been applied to the decision to dismiss her. The Court of Appeal decided that this was not the case. According to case law the band of reasonable responses test requires a heightened standard to be applied where the consequences of dismissal are particularly serious. This, it was decided adequately satisfies any Article 8 requirements to procedure.
Therefore any employees who find themselves dismissed in similar circumstances, with no direct evidence as to their guilt, will not be able to rely on Article 8 to challenge the decision to dismiss them.
For more information on this, please contact us on 01483 303636.