Mishandling redundancy?

Photo by Casey Botticello on Unsplash

An interesting story appeared in today’s Independent newspaper about allegations of racism directed against the office of Tom Watson MP, the Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party.

The allegations (and they are allegations I would stress at this point) concern claims by a former employee of Mr Watson’s that she was unfairly selected for redundancy. Sarah Goulbourne, the former employee in question is alleging that she lost her post because of her race and/or ethnicity (she is of Afro-Caribbean descent). A person’s race is, of course, a protected characteristic in terms of the Equality Act 2010 and s/he has a right not to be subjected to unlawful discrimination or less favourable treatment.

A link to the story can be found below:


In terms of the Employment Rights Act 1996, redundancy can be a potentially fair reason for dismissing an employee – if handled correctly and fairly.

If, however, a person was selected for redundancy because they possessed a protected characteristic such as race, this would be extremely problematic for the employer. If racial discrimination could be proved by the ex-employee, the dismissal or termination of the contract on grounds of redundancy would almost certainly be automatically unfair.

Employers can access very useful advice about redundancy handling (and presumably how to get it right) from the ACAS website:

Click to access Redundancy-handling-accessible-version.pdf

It will be interesting to see if the case proceeds any further.

Copyright Seán J Crossan, 27 March 2019

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A legal blog by the author of Introductory Scots Law: Theory & Practice (3rd Edition: 2017; Hodder Gibson) Sean J. Crossan BA (Hons), LLB (Hons), MSc, TQFE I have been teaching law in Higher and Further Education for nearly 25 years. I also worked as an employment law consultant in a Glasgow law firm for over a decade. I am also a trade union representative and continue to make full use of my legal background. I am a graduate and postgraduate of the Universities of Dundee, London and Strathclyde. Please note that this Blog provides a general commentary about issues in Scots Law. It is not intended as a substitute for in-depth legal advice. If you have a specific legal problem, you should always consult a suitably qualified Scottish solicitor who will be able to provide you with the support that you require.

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