Court of Appeal to consider landmark Covid unfair dismissal case

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Chevan Ilangaratne

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In what is thought to be the first appellate case of its kind, the Court of Appeal will today hear the case of Mr D Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd, where they will consider whether a Coronavirus related absence dismissal was automatically unfair for a health and safety reason pursuant to s.100 ERA 1996.  

The ET at first instance found that the employer (the Respondent) had taken considerable steps to avert the danger in the workplace, and so the Claimant’s refusal to return to work on health and safety grounds was not made out. As such, the employer’s decision to dismiss the Claimant for non-attendance at work was not automatically unfair. The EAT agreed with the ET’s analysis and dismissed the Claimant’s appeal. A case summary of His Honour Judge Tayler’s EAT judgment has already appeared on the news pages of our webiste..

The Court of Appeal will now hear arguments on whether the ET and EAT erred in law when assessing the Claimant’s belief of a ‘serious and imminent danger’ under s.100(1)(d) ERA in light of the exceptional circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Jonathan Gidney represents the Respondent, instructed by Karin Henson of Aeris Employment Law. Chevan Ilangaratne assisted Jonathan Gidney in preparing the arguments for this hearing during the former’s Pupillage. 

The hearing starts at 10.30am and is expected to be live-streamed on the Court of Appeal’s YouTube page; see here for more details. 

Written by Chevan Ilangaratne

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