The case reported here concerns the question of whether an employer can be held vicariously liable for the actions of a third party and thereby constructively dismiss an employee by those actions.

The case involves an employee who worked at her employer’s MD’s home. The employer was a MCA Consulting Limited whose owner and MD was a Mrs Mackenzie. Mr Mackenzie was not employed by MCA Consulting Limited  but obviously he did use the Mackenzie family home, which as previously stated, also doubled up as MCA Consulting Limited’s business premises.

In a nutshell Mr Mackenzie did not behave in a polite way towards the Claimant and an example of his behaviour, so the Tribunal found, was when he shouted at her, jabbing his finger, telling her not to smoke at his house.

The answer as to whether the actions of a  third party non-employee could give grounds for a constructive dismissal case lay in considering whether the employer could have done anything to stop the acts in question. There was also an implied duty to create a suitable working environment to perform contractual duties. That duty was breached.

Interesting case particularly for smaller, owner managed SME’s where the owner’s partner could be sticking his or her nose in. Could also have implications for larger companies who have employees working on and at customer’s sites.

The moral of the story is manners maketh man, manners and courtesy don’t cost anything, and the lack of them here cost the company an unfair dismissal case.