If Football was in the real world…

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Carlos Tevez would be facing the sack (or at the very least a disciplinary) following his apparent refusal to come off the bench to play in last night’s Champions League match against Bayern Munich. For balance, I should add that it appears that Tevez has now denied this, claiming that there was a ‘misunderstanding’.  But Roberto Mancini’s position was clear – as far as he is concerned, Tevez is out.

To the Employment Lawyer this all seems in the cold light of day to be pretty bizarre.  Dismissals for failing to follow a reasonable management instruction are fairly well known; indeed, it is the policy of many employers to include this in their Employee Handbook as one of the things that can, in certain circumstances constitute gross misconduct and therefore dismissal without notice.  It is not always necessary in such a case for an Employer to prove that the instruction was, in fact, lawful – as in, for example, Farrant v. Woodroffe School – where an Employees dismissal for his refusal to move departments, despite the request not being ‘lawful’ under the terms of his contract, was nevertheless held to be fair.  It is difficult to see Mr Tevez arguing in any disciplinary case that the instruction to come off the bench was not lawful; it is self-evident that the principal purpose of his job is to play football.

A case could also be brought on the grounds that Mr Tevez’ conduct has brought the Club into disrepute – although that is rather more difficult to prove, involving to a certain degree evidence that in the eyes of a reasonable bystander that the conduct has had this effect.

Well then, you might ask, why don’t Manchester City just go ahead and sack Carlos Tevez?  I suppose they might, but if they do they are already on shaky ground.  Mancini, it seems, has already pre-determined the decision to dismiss Tevez; and that, in almost every situation, would lead to a finding of unfair dismissal.

At Forbes Solicitors, our Employment lawyers for your business regularly tackle these issues both at an internal stage and in Tribunal when necessary.  As with any employment issue, ensuring you have robust policies and procedures in place will give employers the best possible chance of avoiding a dispute. For further information please contact our Employment Solicitors on freephone 0800 037 4328 or email here.  

Jonathan Holden

About Jonathan Holden

Jonathan is a Partner and Head of the Employment Law department at Forbes Solicitors. Jonathan’s blogs cover his specialisms of disciplinary and grievance matters, redundancies, restructures, employment contracts, TUPE, policies and procedures and settlement agreements. Jonathan also writes about and acts for clients in relation to Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
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