Employee can claim damages for stigma of unfair dismissal

An employee can claim damages for the stigma of an unfair dismissal that made it highly unlikely he would ever find similar work again.

That was the decision of the Court of Appeal in a case involving a project manager with Telford Hospitals NHS Trust.

The manager had worked for the trust on a short-term basis, although he claimed that he would have been offered permanent employment until his retirement in 2022.

He was dismissed after trying to get the trust to notify previous occupiers of its property about potential asbestos exposure. He brought a claim to the employment tribunal, which found that the dismissal was unlawful.

He submitted a schedule of loss setting out the earnings he would have received under permanent employment until 2022. He also submitted a witness statement explaining that in his industry, it was impossible to obtain a new contract without a reference from the previous employer, which he was not able to obtain, and that despite applying for over 600 jobs, the stigma of his dismissal and claim meant that he would not be hired.

The Employment Tribunal awarded compensation for future loss of earnings to November 2013, as well as injury to feelings and aggravated damages. It rejected the submission that he would have been given permanent employment.

He appealed on the basis that he had incurred losses beyond November 2013 because of the disadvantage suffered in the labour market due to the stigma of the claim against his employer.

The case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which found in his favour.

It held that the tribunal had accepted that the consequences of the dismissal were career-ending. In those circumstances, the question of whether he should receive compensation for the losses after November 2013 should have been considered.

The claim was remitted to the tribunal to consider the stigma issue. However, the compensation already awarded, and the finding that the manager would not have been employed by the trust after November 2013, would stand.


Please contact Paul Stevens  on 020 8290 7422 or email pstevens@judge-priestley.co.uk if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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