Stella English, the winner of The Apprentice 2010, lodged a claim for constructive dismissal against her employer, Alan Sugar. She took the case to an employment tribunal, arguing that she had been demeaned and patronised by the management team at Viglen, an IT services firm in Sugar’s group of companies. In particular, she claimed that the CEO Bordan Tkachuk treated her with contempt and told her on the first day: “There is no job.“
But the tribunal dismissed the claims brought by Miss English, noting that she initially resigned without notice and was later reinstated by Sir Alan in a different company, YouView, only to resign again four months later before telling her story to a newspaper. Commenting on the decision, Lord Sugar said “I have been cleared of a derisory attempt to smear my name and extract money from me. The allegations were without substance, and I believe this case was brought with one intention in mind: the presumption that I would not attend the tribunal, that I would not testify and that I would settle out of court, sending Ms English on her way with a tidy settlement. I’m afraid she underestimated me and her reputation is now in tatters. I have principles and I am not going to be forced to compromise them, no matter how much time and money they might cost me.“
To avoid many misunderstanding in the workplace, which could potentially lead to constructive dismissal claims, it’s important that your company has well written disciplinary and grievance rules and procedures that comply with the ACAS Code of Practice. This set of downloadable template documents can help you manage disciplinary and grievance issues.