It has been the law for a long time that an employer’s actions or inactions may be so bad that an affected employee can treat the act, or failure to act, as an end to their employment.
The employee’s resignation can be followed by a claim — normally at an employment tribunal — for compensation.
The case of Cyprus Airways Limited v Lambrou, however, acts as a sobering reminder to employees that there is a set of rules to be complied with if they are to win that compensation.
A certain Mr Lambrou was employed by Cyprus Airways Limited (Cyprus). He was upset by four instances of the firm’s behaviour towards him. He complained formally about the first incident but he did not complain about the other three.
However, subsequently he said all four together were sufficiently bad to entitle him to resign and sue Cyprus. The employer argued that Mr Lambrou could not sue as he had not complied with the required procedures before he resigned.
These procedures required employees in most cases to notify the employer about their complaints. This presented a problem for Mr Lambrou since he had only raised one complaint about the first incidence.
Mr Lambrou lost his case in the employment appeal tribunal. The court decided that as Mr Lambrou claimed all four matters added up to entitle him to resign, he could not sue as he had not followed the specified process for all four matters.
Although he had followed the process for the first one, it was not possible to split this from the other three and allow Mr Lambrou to proceed on the basis of the first ground only.
This case acts as an important reminder that employees must follow the correct process if they wish to resign and sue their employer.
Your personnel department must provide employees with details of what process to follow. If the employer does not operate a formal process, the employee shouldput the complaint in writing and make sure a responsible person receives it. Your employer must investigate your complaint and respond with views and proposals.
The case is also an important reminder that an employee must think very carefully about what he says when complaining to his employer, as he will have to reconcile his complaint with his tribunal claim if he sues.
Catherine Gannon is the managing partner at Gannons. She leads a team of employment and corporate lawyers, whilst being a tax specialist. She is therefore able to assist you and your company in wide ranging matters. Please do get in touch to see how you can benefit.