Since the introduction of fees, the employment tribunal has, thankfully, become a less common destination for the HR professional. However, although the number of tribunal claims may have fallen by between 70 and 80%, when a case does come to court, the amount of the award can cost the employer dearly.
Police forces, local authorities, hospitals and banks were among the organisations that had to pay some of the more expensive awards in 2014; Stephen Simpson rounds up 10 of the largest amounts paid to claimants.
1. Disciplinary process mishandled for bipolar council worker
In Richman v Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, a disabled support worker with a bipolar disorder was awarded £101,183 for the way in which disciplinary allegations over an altercation with a member of the public were handled.
2. Disciplinary procedure not adapted for NHS worker with learning difficulties
In Benedetto v Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the disciplinary process was not adapted for a kitchen assistant with a “very significant” learning disability who was accused of spitting in a colleague’s coffee. The kitchen assistant was awarded £121,863 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
Ministry of Justice: 2013/14 employment tribunal awards
3. Disciplining of RBS employee should have been delayed because of depression
In O’Doherty v Royal Bank of Scotland, an employment tribunal awarded a former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employee with depression £126,348 over the bank’s handling of allegations that he inappropriately accessed a number of accounts.
4. Race discrimination against long-serving Sikh police officer
In Bahra v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, a long-serving police officer of Sikh origin successfully claimed that Bedfordshire Police committed race discrimination against him after he was passed over for promotion. He was awarded £209,188.
5. Police force failed to make reasonable adjustments for injured officer
In Horler v Chief Constable of South Wales Police, the employment tribunal ordered South Wales Police to pay £230,215 for disability discrimination to a police officer who was required to retire because his knee injury meant that he was unable to carry out front-line duties. The tribunal found that the police force had not met its duty to make reasonable adjustments because it had failed to consider alternative posts for him.
6. Welfare officer’s ill-health dismissal was unfair
In Harris v Monmouthshire County Council, a senior education welfare officer was awarded £238,216 for unfair dismissal and discrimination arising from disability. The award was made following an employment tribunal finding that the council mishandled her ill-health dismissal.
7. Executive made redundant after blowing the whistle
In Gill v Sweett (UK) Ltd, an executive who was made redundant after he made disclosures in a grievance about accounting irregularities was awarded £254,611 for unfair dismissal.
8. Dismissed secretary in big employment tribunal award
In Konczak v BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd, Mrs Konczak, a dismissed secretary, presented complaints to the employment tribunal alleging sex discrimination, disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The employment tribunal upheld her claims and awarded her £360,179.
9. Sex discrimination: RAF nurse overlooked for promotion
In Williams v Ministry of Defence, a former RAF nurse at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital was awarded £557,039 after bringing a claim for sex discrimination against the Ministry of Defence over her non-promotion. The employment tribunal concluded that the Ministry of Defence’s approach to promotion favoured male officers over female officers.
10. Age discrimination: older drivers dismissed over insurance costs
In Wright and others v Purple Parking Ltd, an employer that dismissed drivers over 67 years of age after claiming that its insurance provider would not insure them has admitted liability for age discrimination and unfair dismissal midway through the drivers’ case, and has been ordered to pay more than £700,000 to 20 drivers.