Q&A - Dismissal for incompetence? Or sexual discrimination?

Q:     In January 2020 I started a new job at the same time as a male colleague who does the same role. I am female, by the way. Shortly afterwards, along with other people in the office, we were asked to work from home due to coronavirus, and we are still doing so. Then, at the beginning of this summer, we were asked to take on additional tasks. Now I have been told that I am going to be ‘let go’ because I am not capable of doing the job. My male colleague, who told me he was also struggling with the new tasks, is being kept on. Is there anything I can do, as I have not been in the job for two years?

A:    Has your employer provided evidence to back up his claim that you are incapable of doing your job? Were you given a new contract for the new job spec? Were you offered training for the new tasks you were expected to undertake? If the answer to these questions is ‘No’, then you should challenge the decision to ‘let you go’. You can ask for training if the additional work is outside the scope of the duties you were engaged to do as per your original contract, and you should ask for time to adjust to doing the new tasks.

If this does not get you anywhere, then you should make an appointment to see a local employment solicitor as it may be a case of discriminatory dismissal. Whilst you would need to have completed a minimum of two years’ service to bring an employment tribunal claim for dismissal due to lack of capability, there is no length of service requirement for challenging discriminatory dismissal. A solicitor will be able to ascertain whether you may have a case on those grounds.

This question has been answered by Robert Williams, a Partner with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham