Three years ago Roderick was appointed to the role of Deputy Registrar for Norfolk County Registry Office. He is based in the register office at County Hall, Norwich.
His main duties include: collecting and recording details of all births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships in the area, completing computerised and paper records, issuing birth or death certificates, informing the coroner if there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding a death, collecting statistics to send to the General Register Office, taking payment for copies of certificates and keeping accurate records.
He and his colleagues also perform marriage, civil partnership, citizenship and naming ceremonies at register offices and other venues.
Having assisted several of his more senior colleagues during marriage and civil partnership ceremonies – and been commended for his excellent interpersonal skills, attention to detail and customer service performance – he was promoted to the role of registrar three weeks ago.
A week later Roderick performed his first marriage as Registrar, officiating at a same- sex marriage. He was a little nervous on the day, but the occasion went ahead smoothly. Unfortunately, at the very end of the official ceremony, he turned to the newly-married couple and said: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Roderick was mortified at his mistake and began to apologise, but pandemonium ensued, with the couple and their guests verbally abusing him and accusing him of homophobia and incompetence.
As he was returning to the office from the wedding venue Roderick received a text from his manager, Stuart, asking him to come to his office as a matter of urgency.
Stuart – the Senior Registrar and Office Manager – seemed very angry when Roderick entered the room and shouted:
‘I’ve just had a call about your 2pm ceremony. What the hell were you playing at? You’ve ruined their big day and they’re livid. How could you be so insensitive?’
‘It was a slip of the tongue’, Roderick replied, ‘of course I meant to say “husband and husband”, but I was a bit nervous, and it just slipped out’.
‘They said you didn’t seem bothered and had laughed at them. Couldn’t you at least have said sorry?’
‘But that’s not true: I did apologise! Of course I did, but they wouldn’t listen and stormed out of the room.’
‘Well I’m sorry, but if you can’t manage a simple thing like that then I’ve no place for you on my team. You’d better get your things and leave. Go on: get out!’
Roderick left the Town Hall immediately and has not returned to the office.
The council has just received an ET1 from Roderick in which he claims he was unfairly dismissed.
Advise the Council as to the merits of Roderick’s claim. You must explain the relevant current legal provisions relating to unfair dismissal. Your advice should include references to relevant statute law and case law. You should also give a legal opinion on whether Roderick’s claim is likely to be successful and advise on what actions the Council should take in respect of his claim.
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