Well, for the context of this article, the answer is not much. But age certainly has a lot to do with it.
The case of Wilson v Wilson Devonald Griffiths John Ltd (WDGJ for short!) concerned a Solicitor who brought claims, citing that he had been ‘frozen out’ of his job following changes to his former law firm. He brought claims for:
- Unfair (constructive) dismissal
- Age discrimination
- Wrongful dismissal
- Breach of contract
The full judgment & facts of the case can be read here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/594149ba40f0b63e0800022d/1600416.2016_Mr_Paul_Wilson_v_Wilson_Devonald_Griffiths_John_Ltd_-_Judgment_and_Reasons.pdf?_ga=2.189822824.2130202448.1498125995-731156371.1498125995
The judge at the Cardiff Employment Tribunal eventually held in favour of WDGJ.
Considering the facts, the court noted the following:
- Although work had decreased, he had primary responsibilities for conduct of crown court files. He therefore couldn’t say he was frozen out of the business.
- At a board meeting, one of the directors allegedly said to Wilson, “We need to address the elephant in the room. When are you going to retire?” and later, “It’s nothing personal but you are the oldest”. It was understood that the context in which this was said could have only been interpreted in the manner of jest and it was not reasonable for the Claimant to believe he was at risk of losing his job (more context in reading the full judgment)
- The WDGJ had never suggested that Mr Wilson was at risk of being dismissed
- There was no contract in place to provide for payment of Mr Wilson’s practising certificate.
There is much to glean from this case. and one prevalent matter was the lack of an employment contract. Had Mr Wilson at least had this (with the appropriate clauses), is breach of contract claim would have much more of a foundation.
Employers, the first step is to actually have employment contracts. The second point is that if you do, are they fit for purpose? We at Hedges are happy to review them for you.
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