A former employee of the Ambassador Theatre Group (“ATG”) has won his unfair dismissal claim against his former employers after he was sacked in 2012.
Mr Stephen Levine commenced employment at Folkestone’s Leas Cliff Hall theatre venue in 1995. During that time he was promoted to the position of general manager. In 2010 the contract for the management of the Leas Cliff Hall theatre was sold on to ATG as part of a £90 million deal to buy all of the Live Nation UK’s theatres and Mr Levine’s employment was “TUPE’d” across to ATG.
During 2011 and 2012 ATG believed that Mr Levine’s performance at work had deteriorated to such an extent that he should be disciplined for it. Allegations of “gross negligence in relation to the management of health and safety” and “a failure to effectively manage the venue and sustain effective working relationships with the team” were put to him and he was subjected to a disciplinary hearing. After this disciplinary hearing he was dismissed (in April 2012) for gross misconduct. Mr Levine subsequently consulted employment law solicitors and submitted an unfair dismissal claim to the Ashford Employment Tribunal last year.
The Ashford Employment Tribunal found that Mr Levine had been unfairly dismissed by ATG. ATG had mischaracterised performance issues as conduct issues and there were no reasonable grounds for the performance issues to be considered as conduct issues. The dismissal was therefore outside of the range of reasonable responses. However, the Employment Judge at Ashford ruled that should ATG have followed the proper procedure there was a “significant possibility” that Mr Levine would have been dismissed anyway. It is likely that Mr Levine’s compensatory award will therefore be reduced to reflect a “Polkey” reduction due to the fact that he may have been dismissed anyway should a proper procedure have been carried out. A remedies hearing (to determine the value of compensation in the case) is due to be heard at a later date.
ATG did not comment after the Employment Tribunal hearing. It is not yet known whether they will appeal the decision of the Employment Tribunal.
Mr Levine, however, stated that he felt that the decreased ticket sales which had ostensibly lead to his departure were a result of the increased fees that he says ATG are applying to ticket sales. ATG denied this.
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