When an employee raises a grievance, it can seem like a nuisance having to hold meetings and arrange an investigation into the complaint. However, the case of Rawlinson v Catch 22 Multi Academies Trust Ltd  has demonstrated just how important it is that employers respond promptly when a grievance is raised. In this case the Employment Tribunal (ET) held that the claimant had been constructively dismissed due to his employer’s failure to adequately respond to his grievances.
Mr Rawlinson was employed by the Trust for some time as an IT Manager. Over the course of his employment his job role changed and he raised a grievance stating that he was being underpaid compared to his colleagues. He received no response to this grievance and so he raised it again and also received no response. Mr Rawlinson had also requested the use a company van as his job required him to move company equipment between locations and he was not insured in his personal car to do this, but this request was rejected. He saw this as the ‘last straw’ and resigned and claimed constructive unfair dismissal.
An employee can claim constructive unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act  where they terminate their contract of employment due to the conduct of the employer. Such a claim will only be upheld where the employer’s conduct goes to the heart of the employment contract.
In Mr Rawlinson’s case the ET held that although each of the individual issues that he complained of was insufficient to amount to a breach of contract, the Tribunal accepted that it was a classic last straw incident. Each of the separate situations when taken together amounted to breach of the fundamental term of mutual trust and confidence and therefore Mr Rawlinson was held to be unfairly dismissed and was awarded £10,000.
What this Means for Employers
This case demonstrates how important it is that employers correctly respond to and adequately deal with grievances when they are raised. It also highlighted the potential financial consequences of failing to do so.
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