An appeal by a Kent NHS Trust against a decision of unfair dismissal has been successfully challenged by Kent Law Clinic, enabling its client to keep a ‘life changing’ compensation award of £25k.
East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust lodged their appeal after a decision made last year by Judge Kurrein at a hearing at Ashford Employment Tribunal.
The hearing at Ashford heard that Law Clinic client, Mrs Pat Levy had worked for ten years as an administrator in the Health Records department of the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate before being offered a new job ‘subject to references’ in the radiology department within the same NHS Trust. Mrs Levy wrote to her manager to notify him that she was leaving and the manager wrote her a reference. However, the reference overstated the numbers of days she had taken off sick and the offer of the new job was withdrawn. When Mrs Levy then tried to withdraw her notice from the Health Records department, her manager refused to allow her to do so and she found herself unemployed by both the department and the Trust.
Judge Kurrein held that Mrs Levy had not given notice of the termination of her whole employment, and that she had therefore been unfairly dismissed when the Trust treated her as having resigned her employment. At a later remedies hearing, held in August 2017, the Judge awarded compensation of £25,000. The NHS Trust subsequently appealed the unfair dismissal decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in London.
At the appeal hearing in London, Kent Law Clinic Employment Law Adviser Tony Pullen, appeared for Mrs Levy challenging both the appeal grounds and the arguments put forward by Counsel for the NHS Trust. He was accompanied by Law Clinic student Gizem Cicek and Juella Noldred.
In her judgment, Her Honour Judge Eady QC accepted the case put forward for Mrs Levy and upheld Employment Judge’s earlier decision. This meant Mrs Levy was allowed to keep her original award of £25,000 (plus accrued interest).
Mrs Levy (pictured above with Tony) was delighted – and relieved – by the decision: ‘I’ve been sick with worry that I might end up losing. The amount of compensation is life changing for me. Without the help of the Law Clinic I don’t think I would have stood a chance of winning my case. The students and Mr Pullen have been wonderful!’
Law Clinic student Anna Flaherty, who worked on the case under Tony’s supervision for over six months, said: ‘What a brilliant outcome! All the arguments we came up with to resist the Trust’s appeal seem to have been accepted by the EAT. I am really happy for the client and the experience for me has been so valuable.’
Tony added: ‘Although our client succeeded in this case, employees really should wait until they are sure of the new job before saying anything to their current manager!’