Employment Tribunal awards claimant over £80,000 compensation after discriminatory dismissal (Wenlock v Marks and Spencer plc 1300384/2017)

In the case of Wenlock v Marks and Spencer plc – 1300384/2017 an employee was awarded over £80,000 by the Employment Tribunal after it found that his employer, Marks and Spencer, had subjected him to a discriminatory dismissal.

The facts in Wenlock v Marks and Spencer plc

Mr Wenlock was a commercial manager at Marks and Spencer plc. His manager, Mr Bennington, accused Mr Wenlock of lying to his doctor in order to obtain a fit note to return to work; Mr Bennington had no reasonable basis for making such an allegation, and made no enquiries into Mr Wenlock’s version of events.

Mr Bennington subsequently instigated a disciplinary process, based on allegations made by two unidentified members of staff that Mr Wenlock had been drinking at work, had been self-harming at work, and that he had to be removed from contact with customers. This disciplinary process eventually led to the dismissal of Mr Wenlock on 31 August 2016, with Mr Wenlock serving out his period of notice.

Mr Wenlock subsequently brought claims against Marks and Spencer plc.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET)

In an earlier (unavailable) liability judgment the Employment Tribunal concluded that Mr Wenlock had been subjected to a discriminatory dismissal by Marks and Spencer, and upheld his claims for discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal subsequently considered remedy in the case (how much Mr Wenlock should be awarded), and concluded that the following sums were appropriate:

  • Compensation for loss of earnings: £34,653.75, with interest of £2,278.09
  • Injury to feelings: £24,542.00, with interest of £3,716.93

The Employment Tribunal therefore awarded Mr Wenlock the net sums of £65,100.77, which was grossed up to £81,688.78 to account for tax over £30,000.

In awarding the sum for injury to feelings, the Employment Tribunal noted that this was a case which fell firmly at the uppermost level of the upper Vento band, due to the severe impact that the discrimination had on Mr Wenlock (including, among other things, Mr Wenlock experiencing suicidal thoughts).

Our solicitors’ views on the case of Wenlock v Marks and Spencer plc

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment department at Redmans, commented on the case as follows: “Employers must take care to ensure that any allegations of misconduct made against employees are fair, appropriate, and thoroughly-investigated – failing to obtain ‘both sides of the story’ may lead to potentially expensive Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.”

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Wenlock v Marks and Spencer plc 1300384/2017 can be found here.