Can You Be Dismissed For Being A Serial Complainer?

The Court of Appeal are set to hear the appeal of Hope v British Medical Association (BMA) this year.

The Claimant, during the course of his employment, had made numerous grievances against his senior managers which, in turn led to his dismissal for gross misconduct. Each time the Claimant made a grievance, he refused to progress the grievances at a formal level or withdrew them.  The Claimant was made aware that he could face disciplinary action if his claims were found to be ‘frivolous’ or ‘vexatious’. In response to this, the Claimant filed another grievance.

Following this, the Claimant was invited to attend a ‘reasonable management instruction,’  which he refused to attend.  At this point, he was dismissed for gross misconduct and abusing the process as his grievances were found to be ‘frivolous and vexatious’.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) both found the decision of the BMA to be fair and lawful due to the conduct of the Claimant throughout the grievance process.

The significance of the case:

This case clarifies the position of employers when handling a difficult serial complainer in the workplace.  In this case, the Claimant’s conduct undermined the grievance process.

Protection for employers:

According to the Tribunal, as long as employers have taken a range of reasonable responses to accommodate the serial complainer for previous grievances, then their choice of dismissing a serial complainer may be considered fair by the Tribunal. In this case, the employer exhausted their options of reasonable responses to the Claimant’s numerous grievances which amounted to his dismissal being justified.

If you or someone you know has faced a similar issue to the ones mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our team for assistance.