PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
If you believe that you have been unfairly treated by your employer, you should seek legal advice straight away or risk forfeiting your right to compensation. That point was vividly made in a case involving a supermarket manager who was demoted after she caught a more junior employee pilfering money from the till.
The woman had noticed cash shortfalls and had discovered from CCTV footage that a cleaner was responsible. She reported the matter to her superiors, but was herself demoted after a disciplinary procedure on the basis that she bore some responsibility for what had happened. She was paid less than half her previous wage in her new role and suffered a depressive illness.
She ultimately resigned and lodged complaints of unfair constructive dismissal and unlawful deductions from wages with an Employment Tribunal (ET). The ET found that the disciplinary process followed was seriously flawed and that her demotion amounted to a repudiatory breach of her employment contract.
Her claims were, however, dismissed on the basis that she had waived her rights and reaffirmed her willingness to work by accepting employment in the more junior role. She had signed up to the terms and conditions of her new contract in writing and had worked in the post for six months before resigning.
In upholding her challenge to that decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the ET had failed adequately to address highly significant oral evidence that she had only accepted her demotion under protest. In the circumstances, the matter was sent back to the same ET for reconsideration.