Employment Case Developments in April

Highlights of recent court and tribunal decisions include the following:

Employee required to account for secret profit made in breach of fiduciary duty

In Samsung Semiconducter Europe Ltd v Docherty [2011] an employee was obliged to account for the secret profit he made in ensuring that his employer did business with another company in which he secretly held a 50% shareholding. It did not matter that there was no detriment to the employer.

Illegal worker not barred from bringing employment-related discrimination claim

The EAT has upheld a tribunal’s decision that an employee, who entered the UK dishonestly and had no right to work in this country, was not prevented by the doctrine of illegality from pursuing a race discrimination claim against her UK employers. The discrimination did not arise from and was not inextricably linked with the employee’s illegal conduct; and the tribunal, in awarding discrimination compensation, had not appeared to condone her wrongdoing.

Fair dismissal for inappropriate comments made on Facebook

An employment tribunal has held that a pub manager was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct after she made inappropriate comments on Facebook about two of her customers, who had verbally abused and threatened her. Her employer was entitled to take the view that the conversation on Facebook, which took place while she was at work, did not reflect her upset or anger at the customers, but seemed more like a joke between friends. It did not matter that she thought that her privacy settings meant that only close friends could see her entries; in fact a wider audience was able to view her Facebook page, including relatives of the customers in question. As a result, the manager was found to be in breach of the employer’s e-mail and internet policy, which specifically referred to employees’ use of media such as Facebook while at work

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