News & Views

Rangers enter legal minefield with dismissal of management team

DM
BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment law
BG Purple

Senior managers come and senior managers go from every organisation.  For organisations in the public eye, where senior management leave, it is normally thought of as good public relations for this to be done in an orderly and coherent fashion, even if effusive expression of thanks for services rendered are frequently delivered through clenched teeth. 

 

However, even by the standards of football clubs, where employment law niceties are often ignored and managerial departures frequent, the current debacle surrounding the departure of the senior management team at Rangers stands out.

 

How difficult is it to figure out whether an employee has resigned their employment or not? In employment law terms, other than death and one or two unusual situations, an employment relationship can only come to an end either because the employer has dismissed the employee, or the employee has resigned their employment, with or without notice.

 

Rangers are not claiming that they have dismissed any of the management team, so the only alternative explanation is that all three resigned their employment, apparently without notice.  While a resignation will normally be confirmed in writing by an employee, there is nothing to prevent an employer accepting a clear verbal resignation, or, in more unusual circumstances, in surmising that an employee has resigned by his or her actions.

 

The key, though, is that the resignation, however delivered, is clear and unambiguous, and, in this case, things get a little murky. One can only speculate as to what exactly was discussed between the Club and their former management team. It seems to be accepted that there were negotiations between Rangers and agents for the management team, in relation to agreeing a mutual termination. It has been suggested that this was linked to a wish by the management team to take up employment elsewhere, and discussions over the compensation due to Rangers in that event and whether it would be waived. It was later reported that this alternative employment fell through.

 

It is probably safe to presume that none of these negotiations were committed to writing (at least in any clear manner), and it appears that the Club and the management team have a very different understanding of what, if anything, was agreed during the course of their discussions. It is, of course, not uncommon for employers and employees to undertake discussions about departures from the business, and these may be instigated by either party. Where the parties reach an agreement about the terms of departure, these will almost always then be committed to writing. A general expression that an employee is planning to leave at some point in the future, however, is, in itself, not enough. There must be a firm and unambiguous intention to resign expressed.

 

One would presume that Rangers took expert legal advice before issuing the statement announcing the resignation of its management team and are confident that their version of the meetings and what was agreed will stand up in court in due course. Based on what has been placed in the public domain to date, however, this writer remains to be convinced.

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