The claimant had instructed a solicitor to act on her behalf in the context of disciplinary proceedings. As a result of the claimant's ill health, correspondence between the employer and employee was conducted through the solicitor. Following a disciplinary hearing in which the claimant did not participate, a decision was taken to dismiss her with immediate effect. The solicitor was notified of this on the day (6 July), and she communicated the decision to her client by telephone the following day (7 July). The claimant received a letter confirming the decision the day after that (8 July). The question for the EAT was whether the effective date of termination was the day on which the claimant was notified of the dismissal by telephone or only when she received the letter of termination. If the employment terminated on or before 7 July her unfair dismissal claim had been lodged out of time.
The EAT confirmed that the effective date of termination is the date on which the employee either knows or has had a reasonable chance to find out about their dismissal. The communication of the dismissal decision to the claimant by her solicitor on 7 July was sufficient for those purposes. There was no reason that the employee had to find out about her dismissal direct from the employer, by reading or receiving the letter of termination on 8 July. On that basis the effective date of termination was 7 July; her unfair dismissal claim had been lodged out of time and could not proceed. However, because a different test applies to a discrimination claim that had been lodged outside the relevant time limit, the claimant's disability discrimination claim was allowed to go ahead.