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Law: constructive dismissal – interference by family members

In a recent case (Yorke et al v Moonlight) (the perhaps not so unusual) occurrence of an interfering member of a family was highlighted when it came to a constructive dismissal case.

In the particular case a lady worked in a butchers shop employed by two brothers in partnership. Unfortunately their father, who was not an employee nor could be considered an employer, took exception to the lady going for a medical appointment at lunchtime. (Why can’t people be sick outside work time?) The lady had received approval from one of the partners. Both the lady and other employees always considered the father as the overall boss. The incident led the father to tell the lady to go, i.e. leave her employment.

Arrangements were made for a meeting with the partners the next day but this did not happen, and the lady resigned and pursued a claim for unfair constructive dismissal.

The case was dismissed since it was not the employer’s action but the father’s. Employers should be aware, however, that if there is repeated disruption by a third party then, how they deal with it, can have a bearing on the future employment relationship.

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