The dismissal of the claimant in Missirlis v Queen Mary University of London, a lecturer in cell biology, was prompted by the reorganisation of one of the University's science departments. The aim was to improve the department's research profile and this meant recruiting staff with higher research rankings.
The restructuring proposals had been controversial and opposed by the claimant, among many others. However, he was viewed as having overstepped the mark when he forwarded a report clearly marked "confidential" to students and wrote a letter to the Lancet that was wrong and misleading about the ability of the Head of School (who had led the restructuring) to meet the redundancy selection criteria.
In June 2012 the redundancy committee recommended the claimant's dismissal and that he should be given "appropriate support" to find suitable redeployment. There was a redeployment procedure as part of the restructuring. The University wrote to the claimant telling him that he was being dismissed for redundancy and that he would be paid in lieu of his three months' notice, so that his last day was the next day - 29 June. He was told there were "support mechanisms" for seeking alternative employment. The decision to pay him in lieu of notice was taken by the Head of School, because of his disruptive behaviour over preceding months.
Two weeks after his dismissal, the University advertised for up to seven lecturers in cell and molecular biology – the claimant's field. The claimant applied but was not shortlisted and was told that no specific feedback could be provided. He was informed that the obligation to find suitable alternative employment ceased when his employment ended on 29 June.
The EAT found that, in rejecting his unfair dismissal claim, the Tribunal had not considered the key question – whether his dismissal was unfair because the advertised posts constituted suitable alternative employment for which the claimant had not been considered.
As the EAT put it, "it is one thing to foreshorten the notice period for an employee where there is no potential alternative work for him, another altogether to do so where there is potential alternative work for which he could be considered in accordance with a redeployment policy".