In the case of Mr Canneaux v Land Science Limited, the employer is a business that provides testing and advice on ground engineering and contaminated land projects. At the time of Mr Canneaux’s dismissal, it had about 18 employees. It had very limited administrative resources and did not even have an in-house HR advisor.

Mr Canneaux’s employment commenced in February 2016. He was employed as a Project Manager. Mr Toms, the Managing Director, had a longstanding dissatisfaction with Mr Canneaux. He had a habit of engaging in inappropriate behaviour such as performing stunts in an old car on a client’s premises. It was a scrap car, but nonetheless, one that belonged to the client and which Mr Canneaux did not have permission to use. The stunts involved driving the car over a makeshift ramp at speed to make it jump and driving the car through a makeshift wall of tyres that were stacked higher and wider than the car.

Mr Canneaux was surly at work. He was not happy there and he made this obvious through his demeanour and presentation. He sometimes said inappropriate things to colleagues, like calling them ‘retards’ or fat. He also engaged in ‘laddish’ behaviour. On one occasion Mr Canneaux brought a bullet that he had found to work.

After the company was told to make cuts, with Mr Toms finding Mr Canneaux had not finished his work having been furloughed, he made him redundant. The freelance engineer has now successfully sued the company with Employment judge Daniel Dyal concluding he had ‘no hesitation in finding the dismissal unfair. Judge Dyal said: “In my view, part (not all) of Mr Toms’ frustration relates to the fact [Mr Canneaux] did not do any further work once he had been furloughed.

“Although it is true that [Land Science Limited] had opened a disciplinary investigation into [Mr Canneaux] and was using the language of gross misconduct among other things to describe it, in my view this was essentially about leverage. It wanted to put [him] in a position where taking redundancy seemed like a good option. That would make it more likely for him to go quietly…

“There were elements of blameworthy conduct in his past behaviour in the workplace… The procedure adopted to secure his dismissal was devoid of any semblance of procedural fairness.”

A remedy hearing will be held to decide how much compensation he is paid.

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