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Giving misleading reason for dismissal breached trust and confidence

Makbool Javaid

In Rawlinson v Brightside Group Ltd, the employer decided to dismiss Rawlinson (R) due to concerns about his performance. To “soften the blow” and because the employer wanted R to work through his three-month notice period to ensure a smooth handover of work, R was not told the real reason for dismissal, but told that his work would be carried out by an external service provider. R resigned believing there was a TUPE transfer which had been handled incorrectly. An ET found the employer had not breached the implied term of trust and confidence and R’s complaint really related to the manner of his dismissal, and so rejected his constructive dismissed claim and his claim for damages for his notice period. The EAT upheld R’s appeal. Where an employer chooses to give a reason for dismissal, that gives rise to an obligation not to mislead. Although damages cannot be awarded relating to the manner of dismissal, this was not such a case. R‘s financial loss arose from being misled by his employer, which breached the implied term of trust and confidence. Therefore, his damages claim would be upheld.

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