Demotion for gross misconduct is not constructive dismissal

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Wells v Countrywide Estate Agents t/a Hetheringtons, it was held that where an employer reasonably finds the conduct of an employee to amount to gross misconduct, then demotion (as a lesser sanction to dismissal) will also be reasonable.

Mr Wells was found following a disciplinary process to have committed gross misconduct and was dismissed. He appealed the decision and in recognition of his long service (30 years) and previous good record the sanction was replaced with a final written warning and demotion. Mr Wells resigned and claimed constructive dismissal, citing his demotion as a fundamental breach of his contract. His claim failed at the Employment Tribunal stage, a decision that was confirmed by the EAT.