Tribunal: Former employee ‘was not unfairly dismissed’ by Stenigot Estate

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A stockman who complained about losing his job with Stenigot Estate after being blamed for the loss of 500 lambs was not unfairly sacked, a judge has decided.

Mr N. Bird made his legal claim for unfair dismissal at Lincoln Employment Tribunal against Stenigot Estate Company which had 3,000 acres of land, 1,000 ewes, about 100 cows and other livestock, at the time.

The hearing took place last year and tribunal Judge Blackwell decided to make a decision at a later date.

The judge issued a report on Monday (July 8) stating that Mr Bird was not unfairly dismissed.

The respondents accused Mr Bird of causing health and safety and welfare breaches to sheep, disobeying an instruction and disregarding his duties. They accused him of misconduct and had advised him to hand in his notice.

Mr Bird denied the allegations and said he had been unfairly blamed and dismissed.

The tribunal was told by the respondents that while the firm’s managing director Mr D. Dennis was on holiday, about 400 lambs were lost between November 2016 and March 2017 and that Mr Bird was held responsible.

He failed to provide a count of surviving lambs and failed to take due care of them, alleged the respondents.

The dead lambs were incinerated.

Mr Bird denied he was responsible.

He claimed, through his legal representative, that the vet had not been contacted in order to clarify whether the pneumonia or clostridial disease was the cause of the death rate.

Mr Dennis’ evidence, which the judge said had been unchallenged by Mr Bird, was that the lambs had been on poor pasture which had been a direct cause of clostridial disease.

Judge Blackwell said that the respondents’ dismissal decision had “fallen well within the band of reasonable responses.”