After only approximately 6 weeks in charge, Sam Allardyce’s resignation as the Manager of the England National football team has dominated recent headlines. The resignation came following undercover reporters revealing allegations against him relating to player transfer rules.
From the press reports, it would appear that the allegations brought against Sam Allardyce could amount to gross misconduct, which in turn could have led to his dismissal. As with any employee found guilty of gross misconduct, it is possible that an employment relationship can be terminated with immediate effect, and without notice pay as a result.
It is reported that the Football Association (FA) and Sam Allardyce mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect, soon after the allegations surfaced. It has not been reported as to how exactly the employment relationship terminated but one possible, and likely option would be that the parties entered in to a settlement agreement (previously known as a compromise agreement).
Could Sam pursue an Employment Tribunal claim?
All employees (including the England Football Manager!) have a right not to be wrongfully or unfairly dismissed. The possible legal routes for an employee such as Sam would be:
i.) A claim for wrongful dismissal – without seeing Sam’s contract of employment and without being fully aware of the evidence available, it is difficult to provide definitive advice, however, in this scenario if Sam had been found guilty of gross misconduct, due to acting in a manner which went to the heart of his contract of employment, and broke the relationship of trust and confidence between himself and his employer, it is unlikely that he would be legally entitled to any notice payment, and therefore would not have a claim for wrongful dismissal.
ii.) A claim for unfair dismissal – Sam had only been in the role for approximately 6 weeks at the time of termination, as with all employees an individual needs to have 2 years’ continuous service before they are entitled to raise a claim of unfair dismissal against their employer. Unless the individual can prove that their dismissal was discriminatory, and related to a protected characteristic, a claim for unfair dismissal would fail.
iii.) A settlement agreement – if, as it appears from the press, Sam has entered in to a settlement agreement with the FA, the terms of such an agreement would prevent Sam from pursuing any legal claims against his former employer, as by signing the agreement he has effectively waived his rights to pursue any possible claims.
Therefore, and in light of the above, it is unlikely that Sam would have any viable claim to pursue in an Employment Tribunal, and if he did pursue a claim, the likelihood of success would be low.
Press reports suggest that an out-of-court settlement (settlement agreement) was reached to resolve this matter. A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract made between an employee and employer, either during or after employment, which formally agrees the leaving terms between the parties and prohibits the employee from bringing legal action against the employer at a later date. It is standard practice for agreements to have a confidentiality clause which will prevent either party divulging details of the agreement, including any payment, to third parties. Under the agreement the parties will usually also be obligated not to make any derogatory or disparaging statements about the other party.
Settlement agreements are normally used to bring an employment relationship to an end, in a mutually agreed way. They are often used in situations where an employer and employee feel that their employment relationship is no longer working and a clean break is the best way to proceed. If you would like further details in respect of settlement agreements, or on how to end an employment relationship, you should contact Lindsey or Sarah in our legal team on [email protected] or on 0161 478 3800 for further assistance.