Following today’s ruling against Sharon Shoesmith, the former Haringey children’s services director, sacked after the Baby Peter case, can re-start employment tribunal proceedings.
The proceedings against her former employer were “on hold” pending today’s High Court verdict.
Justice Foskett said: “I have reached the conclusion that the best place for determining whether the claimant has been treated unfairly by Haringey in her dismissal is in the employment tribunal.
“The advantage of that procedure over judicial review is that the employment tribunal can look at the wider merits of the case, including the procedural aspect… Should my decision in this (or indeed any other regard) be the subject of appeal, I have, for the benefit of the Court of Appeal, set out my views about the procedure adopted by Haringey.
“I emphasise in the judgement that these views are not binding on the employment tribunal and are not designed to influence the outcome of those proceedings if they are continued.”
Stephen Simpson, senior employment law editor at Xpert HR, said: “The judge’s focus in the High Court decision was very narrow. It decided that the government’s decision to commission the Ofsted inspection that eventually led to her dismissal was fair. An employment tribunal will have its own criteria by which to judge the merits of her case.”
If Shoesmith brought an unfair dismissal claim, Simpson said, her employer must show that it had one of a number of fair reasons for dismissing her, including that she was incapable of doing the job or committed misconduct.
Simpson said: “The tribunal would then consider whether the council’s actions were within what’s called the ‘range of reasonable responses’, reflecting that there is often more than one way to deal with a performance or misconduct issue in the workplace.
“She could also bring a sex discrimination claim if, for example, she felt that she has been treated less favourably than a man would have been in the same circumstances.
“One major difference between the two types of claim is that unfair dismissal compensation is capped at £65,300, while for discrimination claims it is unlimited.”
Sharon Shoesmith disappointed by High Court verdict