Brother Awarded Compensation After His Sibling Terminated His Employment (Mr R Gee v John P Gee Ltd)

In the case of Mr R Gee v John P Gee, Mr Robert Gee was successful in his claim for wrongful dismissal against his brother.

The Facts in Mr R Gee v John P Gee

Mr R Gee (the “Claimant”) commenced employment in the family farm in 2014. He was helping to manage the farm as an employee and also had shares in the farm.  In November 2014, their father, Mr J R Gee transferred his shares to the Claimant. Mr J M Gee (the “Respondent”) remained on the farm until the Claimant dismissed the Respondent in 2016, and appointed himself Managing Director.

The Claimant argues that during the course of his employment he:

  • was not subject to a fair procedure prior to his dismissal;
  • was unfairly dismissed from his job;
  • was wrongfully dismissed from his job;
  • was denied notice pay and other expenses;

Following a judgment made in a dispute over ownership of the farm dated 13 July 2020, between the Respondent (as Claimant in that case) and the Claimant (Respondent in that case), the Claimant was ordered to transfer shares to the Respondent. Hence, resulted in him becoming the major shareholder with 54% of the shares.

On 28 September 2020 (effectively the date of his dismissal), a meeting was held to confirm the decision to remove the Claimant as a Director of the farm following a notice of intention to remove him dated 27 August 2020.  The reasons for removal were given as poor management of the farm, as well as a breakdown in the relationship.

The Claimant filed a written grievance, on 29 September 2020, arguing about his loss of employment and lack of fair procedure.

On 5 October 2020, the Claimant was sent a letter inviting him to a S111 Protected Conversation (usually used by employers when they are trying to negotiate a termination), to “discuss the farm’s future” as he does not seem to be interested in working there any longer.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant had been wrongfully dismissed and was entitled to his notice pay which had been withheld. The Respondent accepted the Claimant was entitled to his accrued holiday pay. They awarded the Claimant:

  • £3,077.00 gross payment for the notice period
  • £255.71 expenses outstanding
  • £1,657.08 already agreed upon by consent between both parties

The Employment Tribunal did not believe that a case for gross misconduct had been established by the Respondent. Therefore, he should be entitled to his notice pay. In addition, the Tribunal did not agree with the Claimant that his dismissal was unfair, only wrongful based on non-payment of notice pay. There had been a fundamental breakdown in their relationship.

Our Lawyers View

Steve Norton, lawyer at Redmans, says – “This case flowed from the breakdown of a sibling relationship, where an earlier dispute over the management and ownership of the family farm caused a bitter rift between the brothers. This prevented their ability to work together”.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal can be found here.