Tribunal throws out depot manager unfair dismissal claim

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Former GHA Coaches Depot Manager fails to make a compelling case at employment tribunal

A former depot manager employed by GHA Coaches who claimed that he was constructively and unfairly dismissed has had his claim dismissed by the Employment Tribunal in Wrexham.

Wayne Chard had been employed by Bryn Melyn as an engineer which had been taken over by the GHA Coaches Group in 2007. Before the takeover Wayne had taken on additional responsibilities at the request of the former directors of Bryn Melyn and assumed the role of depot manager, a role which continued into GHA ownership.

In April 2015, as part of a restructuring exercise within GHA Coaches, Wayne was advised that his role could potentially be made redundant and he was invited to attend a consultation process.

During the consultation process, Wayne told the company’s General Manager Stephen Bryce that he wished to return to his role as an engineer, that he had only carried out the additional responsibilities as a temporary arrangement and he had previously made the same request to Gareth Lloyd-Davies, one of the directors of GHA.

Wayne’s request was honoured and he returned to the role of an engineer. He then resigned without notice on May 7, 2015 due to the ‘imposition’ of new terms and the alleged conduct of the general manager towards him.

The day after his resignation, Wayne started employment with another coach operator in Wrexham, but told the tribunal that this was only a stop gap as the wages were lower than his previous position. He said he was actively seeking alternative employment and was hoping to secure a position with Arriva Midlands. In addition, he claimed that this shortfall in his wages was part of his schedule of loss.

Although Wayne claimed to have sought legal advice about the matter, he was represented at the tribunal hearing by Nuno Gomes, a bus driver employed by GHA Coaches, and an officer of the RMT, who told the tribunal he had taken a ‘specialist employment law course.’

The tribunal found that the claimant and his union representative not only failed to invite two witnesses whom they claimed were key to their case, but also failed to produce notes from meetings that they quoted in their witness statements.

The tribunal found that ‘recollections of notes were cobbled together from their respective memories, which had been tainted by the passage of time and the claimant’s wish to strengthen his claim.’

The tribunal found that the evidence of the claimant was confused and contradicted his witness statement and cited meetings and incidents that did not take place. The tribunal also found that they preferred the more straightforward and consistent evidence of Stephen Bryce which was supported by contemporaneous correspondence.

Employment Judge Shotter concluded: “The claimant was not unfairly dismissed; his claim for constructive unfair dismissal is not well-founded and is dismissed.

“Having found that there is no fundamental breach of contract on the part of the respondent, there is no requirement for the tribunal to consider any of the remaining issues agreed between the parties.”