Mr Ezsias was a surgeon employed by North Glamorgan NHS Trust. He raised a number of concerns about clinical issues, but in a blunt and antagonistic way. The Trust investigated the situation at length and concluded that the breakdown of relationships was largely due to Mr Ezsias’ behaviour.

Mr Ezsias’ employment was terminated on 1 February 2005 on the basis of an irretrievable breakdown of trust and confidence. He issued proceedings in the Employment Tribunal for “ordinary” unfair dismissal (in particular alleging that the Trust had failed to follow its contractual disciplinary procedure). He also brought a whistle-blowing claim (regarding 75 specific issues).

The EAT decided that the disclosures Mr Ezsias had made were not protected. The reason for his dismissal was the fact that there was a breakdown of trust and confidence.

Further, the Trust was permitted to depart from its contractual disciplinary procedures as the dismissal was for some other substantial reason (SOSR).

There was a distinction between dismissing Mr Ezsias for his conduct in causing the relationships to deteriorate and dismissing him for the fact that those relationships had broken down.

This case highlights that employers have the option of using the SOSR route, as opposed to the conduct route, when dismissing employees for breakdown of relationships. The advantage is that the employer will not have to go through an often lengthy disciplinary procedure before dismissing.

Ezsias v North Glamorgan NHS Trust UKEAT/0399/09