In the case of O v Epping Forest District Citizens Advice the Claimant resigned from his employment with the Respondent ‘in the heat of the moment’ during an altercation with his line manager.
In a subsequent conversation, it had apparently been recognised by his employer that he wished to continue in employment, but his line manager decided she no longer wanted to work with him, and he was asked to confirm his resignation in writing, which he said he would do, but did not and instead sought formally to retract his resignation.
The Claimant’s case was that in law he had not resigned as the situation fell within the so-called “special circumstances exception”. He argued that he had been unfairly and wrongfully dismissed. The Respondent argued that he had resigned. The ET found in favour of the Respondent and the Claimant appealed.
The EAT allowed the appeal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that the Employment Tribunal (ET) erred in law in several respects regarding whether a resignation was intentional during a row.
The EAT found that the ET failed to “properly [assess] in accordance with the applicable legal principles” whether the words and actions in question could objectively be viewed as a resignation that was genuinely intended from the perspective of a “reasonable bystander“.
The EAT further noted that the ET failed “to make adequate findings of fact” and incorrectly focused upon a “special circumstances exception“, with the EAT ruling that there is “no such thing“. The ET also erred in terms of its deliberations over the issue as to whether the Respondent had offered the Claimant an alternative role after the quarrel.
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