Andrew Gale, the former head coach at Yorkshire County Cricket Club (the Club), has won an unfair dismissal claim against the Club due to flaws in the disciplinary process.
In 2020, cricketer Azeem Rafiq made allegations of institutional racism against the Club during the two periods that he played for them. After holding a review the Club said that there was “no question” that Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying and seven of 40 allegations were upheld. However, the Club concluded the investigation by saying “there is no conduct or action taken by any of our employees, players or executives that warrants disciplinary action”.
The Club received criticism on the back of its decision to not take any action against its employees. MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) carried out their own investigations and as a result, suspended the Club from hosting international and major matches due to the “wholly unacceptable” handling of the racism claims. Meanwhile, many different companies associated with the Club cut ties with them including Nike, Harrogate Spring Water, Anchor Butter, and Yorkshire Tea.
In the wake of the controversy, 16 members of staff were sacked from the Club, including head coach Andrew Gale who was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing for a historic tweet and subsequently dismissed. At the time, Gale said, “the decision has come as a surprise to me. The players knew about it before I did and I will be fighting the decision legally”.
Andrew Gale, along with five other employees, later brought claims for unfair dismissal on the basis that no disciplinary process was followed. They said that at the time of their dismissal they were offered no severance money and had challenged whether due process was followed in the termination of their employment as well as the strength of any evidence against them.
On 7th June 2022, Andrew Gale and others won their case with the Judge saying that their complaints of unfair dismissal were “well-founded”. The Club has since released a statement saying:
“The Club acknowledges the judgement that no disciplinary process was followed, which it has accepted in order to minimise the tribunal time taken up by these cases. At this preliminary stage, the tribunal has not made any judgement on the reasons for dismissal and the Club’s firm view is that the dismissals were necessary and justified”.
A full hearing has been set in the Leeds Employment Tribunal in October 2022. However, initial mediation has suggested that a settlement is likely to be agreed upon in advance of the hearing. This case signifies the importance that in order to successfully defend claims of unfair dismissal, the employer must establish a fair reason to dismiss and follow a fair process to carry out that dismissal.
How can we help?
Kate Frisby is a Trainee Solicitor at Nelsons.
For advice on or further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Kate or a member of our expert Employment Law team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.Contact us