Firm but fair situation management in the workplace and employment tribunal landmark cases from 2015

Although there are landmark employment tribunal cases where the awards against employers amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds, these are rare, and the median awards during the tax year 2014/2015 were:

However, what is frequently overlooked by schools are the indirect costs of litigation which are:

  • Reputational damage
  • Management time (preparing for and attending meetings and tribunal)
  • Emotional cost (individual witnesses including those in leadership and Governance positions)
  • Strategic drift (the focus of those on the leadership team and governing body can be side tracked for weeks and months by complex or troublesome cases)
  • Conflict and division amongst those in the school where there has been a breakdown of working relationships resulting in “factions” within the workforce on “one side” or “another” and consequential loss of productivity and potential increase in staff turnover or other grievances and similar.

It often comes as a shock to employers that the employment tribunal system is designed to facilitate resolution, most commonly settlement, as an alternative to litigation. Objective assessment of the direct and indirect costs and risks must always be done to ensure best value for the school is truly achieved.

Landmark cases during 2015 include, but are not limited, to:

Waddingham v NHS Business Services Authority

The decision of the employment tribunal was that the NHS trust committed disability discrimination against an employee (who was required to undergo a competitive interview process during a redeployment exercise whilst undergoing cancer treatment).  The award was £115,056.

Jarrett v Essex County Council

The decision of the employment tribunal was that the Council’s handling of a lawyer’s redundancy constituted race discrimination and unfair dismissal. The award was £116,097.

Nishioka v C&S Shops Ltd

The decision of the employment tribunal was to award £184,741 to a financial officer who was suspended and summarily dismissed after raising accounting concerns.

Marcelin v Hewlett Packard Ltd

It was the decision of the employment tribunal to award £239,913 for disability discrimination to a claimant who was disciplined for, among other things, his refusal to consent to the release of a medical report.

Turner v DHL Services Ltd and another

It was the decision of the employment tribunal to award the claimant £257,127 over his employer’s lack of support when he went off sick as a result of work-related stress.

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