Over the past year I’ve been recording a series of podcasts looking at classic employment law cases and seeing what relevance they have today. I try to put each into its historical and legal perspective and one part of that is to check out whatever was the number 1 hit single at the time the case was decided.
Since it’s Christmas, and as the equivalent of bringing a game in on the last day of term, here are the 14 cases I’ve covered so far this year – with their associated No 1 hit. There are some real clunkers in there (James v Eastleigh) but some that are real masterpieces (Abernathy v Mott).
You can subscribe to the podcast here and if you are a Spotify person I’ve done a playlist here
Enjoy – and have a happy Christmas.
1 British Home Stores v Burchell
Still the leading case on conduct dismissals – with a three point test that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.
1978 You’re the One that I Want, John Travolta & Olivia Newton John
2 Polkey v AE Dayton Services Ltd
The end of the ‘no difference rule’ in deciding on liability for unfair dismissal – but the introduction of the ‘Polkey deduction’ means that an unfair dismissal win is often a hollow victory for claimants.
1987 China in your Hand, T’Pau
3 King v Great Britain China Centre
Before we had the reverse burden of proof in the Equality Act we had this case which allowed Tribunals to look to an employer for an explanation when the effects seemed to point to discrimination. Frankly, I think this made much more sense than the current position.
1991 Sleeping Satellite, Tasmin Archer
4 James v Eastleigh Borough Council
Never has a man’s quest to avoid paying 75p to use a municipal swimming pool had such profound consequences. We are still working out what this case has to say on the meaning of direct discrimination
World in Motion, New Order
5 Western Excavating v Sharp
The defining case on the nature of constructive dismissal – and a decision from Lord Denning into the bargain!
Name of the Game, Abba
6 Delabole Slate Ltd v Berriman
There’s more to an ETO reason than E, T and O! Also a neat case on the reason for a constructive dismissal.
1985 – Move Closer, Phyllis Nelson
7 Carmichael & anor v National Power
There’s nothing new about employment status cases. This one looks at the alleged employment status of two casual workers who gave tours of their local power station.
1999 – She’s the One, Robbie Williams
8 Iceland Frozen Foods Ltd v Jones
This is case is probably quoted more often in employment law than any other case. Use it to argue that the Tribunal has adopted a ‘substitution mindset’ when deciding the fairness of a dismissal.
1982 Fame, Irene Cara
9 James v Waltham Holy Cross
Employment law doesn’t always move as quickly as we sometimes claim. This case from 1973 still gives a good outline of the principles involved in dismissing fairly for poor performance.
1973 – Can the Can, Suzi Quattro
10 Griggs v Duke Power
We cross the Atlantic in this episode to look at the origin story of indirect discrimination.
1971 – One Bad Apple, The Osmonds (US No 1)
11 Williams v Compair Maxam
We still quote this case when looking at the principles of fair selection for redundancy – but did the EAT ever think they were laying down general guidelines?
1982 – Land of Make Believe, Bucks Fizz
12 Abernathy v Mott, Hay and Henderson
This case doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Being clear about the reason for dismissal is key to understanding whether a dismissal is fair or not.
1974 – Tiger Feet, Mud
13 East Lindsay District Council v Daubney
This case established the importance of discovering the ‘true medical position’ and consulting with the employee before dismissing for long-term sickness absence. But how much has the development of disability discrimination law changed the approach that employers must take?
1977 – Knowing Me Knowing You, Abba
14. WM Brooks & Son v Skinner
And we end with a Christmas special. An employee sacked for skipping the nightshift after over-indulging at the Christmas party. But when you hear what was number 1 at the time of the party (back in 1982) you won’t blame him for having drink.
1984 – Two Tribes, Frankie Goes to Hollywood