An ex-teacher who lost her job after more than five years of increasing tension in her workplace has failed in an attempt to breathe new life into her unfair dismissal claim on the basis of fresh evidence gathered through freedom of information requests.
The woman’s employment had been characterised by personality clashes, extended periods of sick leave through stress and allegations and counter-allegations of poor performance and bullying. An Employment Tribunal (ET) had in 2009 dismissed her claim on the basis that there had been an irretrievable breakdown in trust and confidence, for which she was in large part responsible.
The woman and her husband had subsequently embarked on a determined search for fresh evidence through freedom of information requests, and had uncovered a substantial volume of material which had not previously been disclosed and which, it was argued, indicated that she had been the victim of a conspiracy. The ET had nevertheless declined her request to re-open the matter.
In dismissing her challenge to that decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the ET had correctly taken into account the substantial expense of a fresh hearing and the possibility that the woman would in the end be found to have been wholly or partly the author of her own misfortune.
The ET was also entitled to take into account the impact of delay on the prospects of a just outcome when it came to assessing relative blameworthiness. All the fresh material was capable of more than one interpretation and the ET’s decision to call a halt to the proceedings could not be categorised as perverse.