Christian doctor loses Employment Tribunal claim for discrimination and unfair dismissal

hmctsA Christian doctor has lost his bid to overturn the rejection of his Employment Tribunal claim by appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Dr David Drew was dismissed from his employment as a paediatric consultant in December 2010 after his employment relationship with his employing hospital, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, deteriorated. Dr Drew, who was head of paediatrics between 2001 and 2008 and had been employed at the hospital since 1983, was suspended in 2009 after a grievance was submitted by a nurse regarding his behaviour. Although the grievance was not upheld and the doctor was allowed to return to his work the employment relationship, according to a member of senior management who gave evidence at the Tribunal, became “toxic”. Dr Drew apparently submitted a number of grievances regarding his colleagues and an independent review was arranged to examine these grievances specifically and the employment relationship generally. He apparently refused to accept the conclusions of the independent review – which included a recommendation that the doctor should refrain from communicating religious messages to his colleagues – and he was dismissed in December 2010 for “gross misconduct and insubordination”. Dr Drew subsequently submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for automatic unfair dismissal, “whistleblowing”, victimization and religious discrimination.

Dr Drew’s Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, victimization and discrimination were rejected by the Employment Tribunal. He therefore sought to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on multiple grounds – mainly perversity – but this appeal was rejected by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, who concluded that the Tribunal had made no error of law and was entitled to have come to the conclusions that they did.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows how grievances at work can escalate and can cause the employment relationship to become fundamentally toxic. If this circumstance arises then employers may be entitled to terminate an employee’s contract of employment and this dismissal may be fair – should the correct procedures have been undertaken and a reasonable decision to dismiss arrived at.”