Re-engagement Order Upheld Despite Breakdown in Working Relationship

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Posted on 10 Jun 2013

An employment tribunal had been entitled to make a re-engagement order, despite a breakdown in the relationship.

In Oasis Community Learning v Wolff, W was dismissed from his teaching job at a school in Lincolnshire as he was too confrontational with pupils. He successfully claimed that his dismissal was unfair. He sought re-engagement. The employer argued that his re-engagement was not practicable as the relationship had broken down. W had made numerous allegations against a variety of staff, including members of the HR department, the chair of the Board and other employees. These included allegations that they had fabricated evidence and that there had been collusion. A member of HR had also given evidence that W was vindictive and vexatious. 

The tribunal decided that re-engagement was practicable and ordered that W should be re-engaged as a teacher at another school in Croydon. 

The EAT dismissed the employer’s appeal. Although it agreed that despite being at a different school W would still have a working relationship with Oasis as employer, and in particular the HR department, it found that there was no need for W to interact with the particular individuals with whom he had had difficulties. 

This is a somewhat unusual decision and should not be seen as changing the general principle that a breakdown in the working relationship will make re-engagement impracticable. The employment tribunal took the view that it was practicable for the employment relationship to continue as W could work at a different school with different colleagues. In addition, the HR department was large enough that future contact could be with different individuals. 

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