Tribunal awards dodgers could be sued for victimisation by staff

Employers that fail to pay tribunal award damages could find employees filing discrimination cases against them for victimisation.

It follows a Court of Appeal case – Rank Nemo (DMS) Ltd v Coutinho – which held that an ex-employee was entitled to proceed with a claim for victimisation against an ex-employer for failing to pay an award of £72,500 for race discrimination and TUPE unfair dismissal by a predecessor company.

In May 2008, a tribunal ruled the ex-worker could not claim for victimisation. But the Court of Appeal judgment ruled: “The Employment Appeal Tribunal rightly held that the employment tribunal had erred in law in rejecting the victimisation claim for want of jurisdiction.”

Earlier this week, Personnel Today reported that Justice secretary Jack Straw has promised tough measure to force employers to pay damages awarded against them by employment tribunals.

“I am determined to ensure that employees awarded settlements following a dispute get their dues paid,” he said.

“Our [Ministry of Justice] research shows that as many as four employers out of 10 are not paying up, leaving individuals with money owed to them, which is completely unacceptable, especially if they have lost their job.”

Straw said High Court enforcement officers would be given powers to recover awards granted by employment tribunals or in out-of-court settlements.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Rogue employers should no longer be able to avoid punishment for mistreating their staff.”

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