The Employment Tribunal in Cardiff has given judgment in the case of Eirian Morris v Carmarthenshire County Council. Mr Morris was dismissed from his role as Ski Centre Coordinator at Pembrey Country Park following a restructure within the Council.
He issued a claim for automatically unfair dismissal on the basis that the principal reason for his dismissal was a series of whistleblowing disclosures he made in 2014. His alternative case was that his dismissal was substantively and/or procedurally unfair.
A five-day hearing took place last month. Jim Duffy, instructed by Mark Alaszewski of Thompsons Solicitors, represented Mr Morris. The claim was supported by UNISON.
The tribunal held that Mr Morris was dismissed by reason of redundancy and not due to his whistleblowing disclosures. It went on to find, however, that he was nonetheless unfairly dismissed due to a flawed procedure.
Mr Morris had been selected for redundancy in a pool of one. The Council had scored Mr Morris’s job against another post within the authority – that of ‘Active Facilities Manager’ (AFM) – and the scores were considered by Mr Rees, the officer who considered Mr Morris’s appeal against dismissal.
The Council failed to share those scores with Mr Morris during his redundancy procedure. Indeed, the scores were not even produced until mid-way through the hearing. As Jim pointed out, the scores seemed, on the face of it, to show a 97% compatibility between the ski centre role and the AFM role, undermining the Council’s argument that the AFM role involved a much greater degree of responsibility.
The tribunal considered that the evidence of the Council concerning how it approached the question of the size of pool “was not satisfactory”. It added:
“[p]rima facie the posts of AFM and ski centre coordinator were graded the same and scored almost identically according to the material which Mr Rees relied upon. The evidence simply does not support the proposition advanced by Mr Rees that those scores reinforced his view that the demands of the two positions were significantly different.”
The Council failed to share with Mr Morris its proposals for the redevelopment of the ‘Countryside’ arm of its operation in which jobs might become available.
Neither did it update him that a temporary post he had previously been offered and rejected on the basis it would only last 12 weeks had received additional funding meaning it could be extended.
Had they done so, the claimant might have argued that the respondent should delay the deletion of his post or should redeploy him temporarily so that he might have the opportunity of applying for a permanent post in the new Countryside structure as and when that became available.
These are necessarily speculative considerations, but by failing to share those matters with the claimant the respondent effectively deprived him of the opportunity to argue that position.