Posted: Wednesday 29 February 2012
Viewers of the BBC’s popular show the Apprentice might recall the moment when Stella English was told ‘you’re hired’ by Lord Alan Sugar, beating fellow contestant Chris Bates and landing a £100,000 a year job with the multi-millionaire businessman.
It seems her dream job was short-lived however: Ms English resigned from her position last October and it has now been reported that she has lodged a claim for constructive dismissal with an Employment Tribunal.
According to reports, it seems that the relationship between Ms English and Lord Sugar broke down following his refusal to renew her contract, which was due to expire in December last year. In addition, it has been reported that Ms English was unhappy with the roles that she was given within Lord Sugar’s companies, and was allegedly disgruntled at having to report to someone who was more junior than her. What the outcome of her claim will be remains to be seen, however in order to be successful she will have to satisfy the test for constructive dismissal, which I have commented on below.
Constructive dismissal is an area of law which is often misunderstood and is often used as a threat by employees against employers.
Claims for constructive dismissal involve the employee terminating their contract of employment with or without notice, in circumstances where they were entitled to do so by reason of the employer’s conduct. It is not sufficient however for the employee to merely show that the employer’s conduct has been unreasonable in some way: the employee must demonstrate that the employer broke a material (significant) term of the contract of employment and that this is what caused the employee to leave.
However, two key points for employers to bear in mind are:-
It will be interesting to hear how Stella English’s claim progresses albeit I suspect there is a good chance that it will be settled without a full Tribunal hearing.