South Tyneside Council v Ward - Events during notice period turned dismissal from unfair to fair [2011] EAT

In determining whether or not a dismissal was fair, a Tribunal can - and in some circumstances should - consider what occurs between the giving of notice, the date of commencement of that notice period, and the ultimate termination of the employment. What happens during that time may render fair a dismissal which, if looked at solely at the point when notice was given, appears unfair. 

Mrs Ward, who was disabled, worked for the council from 1987 to 2008. From 2003 onwards she raised numerous grievances (mainly due to personnel changes within her department). She was temporarily re-deployed in another department, and her subsequent request to return to her former department was rejected for various reasons, including that serious grievances that remained outstanding. South Tyneside was, however, quite willing to offer alternative roles: its negotiations with Mrs Ward got nowhere. With her temporary placement due to end South Tyneside gave her three months notice on 18 October 2007, hoping to bring matters to a head. However, despite offering alternative jobs with continuity of employment throughout the notice period, Mrs Ward unreasonably refused all these. On 18 January 2008, therefore, her employment terminated.

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