Dabson v David Cover & Sons UKEAT/0374/10

Mr Dabson was employed as Cover’s transport manager.  In 2009 redundancies were announced and 22 of the 80 employees at risk were to be let go.  He was placed in a pool of 3 where the duties were to be re-distributed between a transport manager and a transport assistant.  He was eventually selected for redundancy.  He did not challenge or appeal that decision but 3 months later he noticed that Cover was advertising for his old post as transport manager and he suspected he had been forced out.  Although more than 3 months’ had elapsed his claim was allowed to proceed on the basis that it was not reasonable nor practical for him to present a complaint within 3 months.  The tribunal believed that the scores awarded to Mr Dabson were fair, reasonable and appropriate.  It was not for the tribunal to re-score him.  His complaint was that as he had been awarded 2 marks out of 2 under the heading “ability to plan routes” it was inconsistent to be awarded 1 out of 2 points for “ability to assist with route planning”.  The EAT held that the tribunal had been entitled to conclude that the jobs were different and there was no inconsistency so the selection process was fair.   

Key point:  Close scrutiny of the scoring exercise is not the role of the tribunal but employers will be expected to be fair in the selection process.  Whether the ensuing consultation was or was not fair, is a matter for the tribunal.  Employers should note that the claim was allowed to proceed long after the termination date so recruiting a short while after a downsizing exercise without a good business reason may prompt claims from aggrieved former employees.