Alan Curbishley has won his case for constructive dismissal against West Ham United. Curbishley left Upton Park in September 2008 after less than two years in charge - in circumstances very similar to Kevin Keegan's departure from Newcastle United - claiming he was forced to resign because the club ignored a clause in his contract giving him the final word on player transfers.
A Premier League arbitration tribunal unanimously upheld Curbishley's claim and dismissed a counter-claim by West Ham for the cost of employing Gianfranco Zola, his successor, and Steve Clarke, his assistant. The tribunal will now assess how much compensation the club will have to pay Curbishley for wrongful dismissal.
"I am obviously delighted with this result," Curbishley said. "I very much enjoyed my time at West Ham and never wanted to leave, but when I joined them I insisted that my contract contain a clause confirming that I would have final say on the selection of players to be transferred to and from the club.
"They completely ignored my contract when selling Anton Ferdinand, and when George McCartney was then sold, after I'd received assurances that no players would leave after the sale of Ferdinand, I had no alternative but to resign."
Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers' Association, said:
"Naturally we're delighted with the outcome for Alan but, at the same time, sorry he wasn't able to continue at West Ham, a club that has played such a prominent part in his professional career both as a player and manager.
"The findings of the tribunal demonstrate the critical importance of respecting contracts which need to set out the roles and responsibilities of the parties in clear and unequivocal terms."
How to prove constructive dismissal
To prove constructive dismissal, Curbishley had to show that West Ham committed a serious breach of contract, he did not accept the breach, and he resigned because of the breach.
Constructive dismissal cases are hard to win, so always
seek legal advice before quitting your job. Factors such as
your employment status, the terms of your employment contract, length of
service, and reasons for leaving all require consideration.
For more information, read Constructive Dismissal: What Everyone Needs To Know.
What is wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal arises when an employer breaches a term of a contract of employment, which results in dismissal or forces an employee to leave.
It is worth noting that dismissal can be both wrongful and unfair: for wrongful dismissal, however, there is no service qualification period for making a claim (unlike unfair dismissal). Note also, that any money received for unfair dismissal will usually be cancelled out by the amount received for wrongful dismissal, and vice versa, to stop the employee receiving double compensation.
To learn more about wrongful and constructive dismissal, and to receive advice tailored to
your particular situation, contact a solicitor who specialises in employment law.