Once again, we have been treated to a steady diet of new laws, cases and European regulations that ranged from the sensible to the ridiculous. See if you were paying attention to some of the more extraordinary stories from the past 12 months with our annual quiz. Compiled by James Baker and Rebecca Peedell, solicitors at Macfarlanes.
1 In the first full year of age discrimination legislation, we have seen a handful of cases dealing with allegations of discriminatory behaviour. In one case, a cleaner was dismissed having been left a note in her cleaning cupboard. The note said:
(a) “Due to your age and health problems you have fallen into the high-risk category for health and safety.”
(b) “In accordance with the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 you are invited to a meeting to discuss your planned retirement.”
(c) “We promised not to retire you for as long as you can clean the office in less than an hour. Unfortunately, having timed you last week, we have no choice but to dismiss you.”
(d) “You’re fired.”
2 A leading City law firm faced a high-profile age discrimination claim having altered its pension scheme rules to the detriment of partners over a certain age. Did the employment tribunal say that this was discriminatory?
Yes or No?
3 In the US, Judge Roy Pearson brought a $54m lawsuit:
(a) Against his dry cleaners for losing a pair of his trousers.
(b) Against his court clerk for falling asleep while on duty, causing Pearson to give an erroneous verdict.
(c) Against George Bush for failing to award a large enough pay rise to the judiciary.
(d) Against a local newspaper for a defamatory article alleging that he had been unfaithful to his wife.
4 In October 2007, the EAT made a finding of great significance to Rastafarian employees. Was it that:
(a) It is acceptable to dismiss employees because they have dreadlocked hair.
(b) It is never acceptable to dismiss employees because they have dreadlocked hair.
(c) It is acceptable to dismiss employees with dreadlocked hair when it is not tidy enough for the demands of the job in question.
(d) Rastafarianism is a religion which is protected under the Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003.
5 Why should employers not bother putting up mistletoe at the Christmas party?
(a) Because 76% of employees would snog a colleague at the Christmas party anyway.
(b) Because 43% of employees have dated a colleague at least once in their careers anyway.
(c) Because 87% of female employees think there aren’t enough good-looking men in their office to consider having a relationship with.
(d) Because displaying mistletoe could give grounds for a claim of sexual harassment against the employer if anyone used it as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour.
6 Reverend Mark Sharpe won compensation from the Ministry of Defence after resigning from his position as chaplain on board two navy ships. Why did he resign?
(a) Nobody ever attended his services.
(b) He was shocked at the widespread use of pornography and sexually explicit discussions.
(c) He didn’t like the naval uniform.
(d) He suffered from debilitating sea sickness.
7 From 1 July 2007, employers had to:
(a) Ban smoking in all workplaces.
(b) Ban smoking in all workplaces and build special smoking shelters for employees who can’t kick the habit.
(c) Give over a dedicated room to smokers.
(d) Supply nicotine patches and counselling for employees.
8 In South Africa, Charles Sibindana was rumbled when he took a week off work and tried to claim he was absent due to ill health. He was caught because:
(a) He wrote his own sick note and his employer recognised his handwriting.
(b) He was seen in the crowd of a televised rugby game.
(c) He submitted a doctor’s note written for his wife which confirmed that she was pregnant.
(d) He confessed his crime when cross-examined by his boss.
9 “This is perhaps a classic case of good policy but inappropriately inflexible and prescriptive regulation.” Does this comment refer to:
(a) The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006?
(b) The statutory dispute resolution procedures?
(c) The increase in statutory holiday to 24 days a year?
(d) The smoking ban?
10 Why was Wayne Simpson dismissed from his job as a salesman for EDF Energy?
(a) He failed to meet his targets for the year.
(b) He told potential customers that they’d be better off using another electricity supplier.
(c) He took a shine to one of his potential customers and sent her a picture of himself naked in a frothy bath.
(d) He took a customer on holiday to Majorca for a week and paid with a company credit card.