“I am persuaded that a common law right embracing the manner in which an employee is dismissed cannot satisfactorily coexist with the statutory right not to be
unfairly dismissed. A newly developed common law right of this nature, covering the same ground as the statutory right, would fly in the face of the limits Parliament
has already prescribed on matters such as the classes of employees who have the benefit of the statutory right, the amount of compensation payable and the short time
limits for making claims. It would also defeat the intention of Parliament that claims of this nature should be decided by specialist tribunals, not the ordinary
courts of law.” Johnson v Unisys  1 AC 518  Per Lord Nicholls
Discuss the ways in which the common law has developed the right of a dismissed employee to claim for the effects of adverse treatment and the extent to which the
courts have in practice limited such claims.
Jason has worked for Julies Enterprises Ltd [JEL] as an Assistant Manager for 10 years. JEL works in the highly specialized field of technical support for super
However, Jason has never got on well with JEL’s Managing Director, Lizzie. Lizzie often shouts at him and criticizes his work in front of colleagues. Jason finds this
situation very stressful and difficult to deal with, and has seen the doctor for medication on a number of occasions.
Things have got even worse for Jason recently as, unlike all previous years, he has not been paid a bonus this year. When he queries this, Lizzie points to a clause in
his contract which states:
“Bonuses will only be given to reward excellent work and when this is in the financial interests of the company. Whether a bonus is given is within the sole discretion
of the Managing Director.”
She also tells him that increased competition with JEL’s competitor, Julian Ltd, has cut the company’s profits this year. However, other employees have received a
Things finally come to a head when Lizzie tells Jason that JEL is going to set up a second office in Nottingham, 150 miles away from where he currently works, and that
he will be moved there in a month’s time. He complains and says there is nothing in his contract allowing her to move the location of his job but Lizzie points to a
clause in the JEL Handbook which allows JEL to alter the terms ‘to adapt to business need’. The JEL Handbook is available to all staff but he has never read it. Lizzie
then tells him that this is a business need and he does not have any choice, but he still refuses. As a result of his insubordination Lizzie sacks him with immediate
In the two months that have elapsed since leaving JEL, the stress this caused Jason has made him lose all confidence in his abilities and he doubts he will ever be
able to find a job in the industry again.