Bisset v Martins and Castlehill Housing Association Ltd, EAT, 18 August 2006

Extension of time limit does not apply to grievance against fellow employee

BACKGROUND Ms Martins was the subject of an ongoing disciplinary process when she submitted a written grievance to her employer on 6 May 2005. It included a complaint about her treatment by a fellow employee, Ms Bisset. Martins was dismissed on 9 May. She submitted a claim against her employer and Bisset on 8 August. As the last date of any discrimination by Bisset was 5 April, the discrimination claim against Bisset appeared out of time, as it was submitted more than three months after the date of alleged discrimination. But at a preliminary hearing, the tribunal allowed Martins to rely on a three-month extension of time, as she had presented a written grievance and waited 28 days before submitting her claim as required by the dispute resolution regulations. The tribunal ruled that Martins’ claim against Bisset was not time-barred and could proceed. Bisset appealed.

DECISION The EAT upheld Bisset’s appeal, finding that Martins’ two claims were separate. The EAT concluded that the laws providing for an extension of time “plainly” did not apply to a claim against a fellow employee only against employers. The EAT remitted the case back to the original tribunal so the claim against Bisset may be allowed.

COMMENT Although the time limit for a claim against an employer can be extended where a written grievance has been presented, this is not the case with a claim against a fellow employee. Any joint claims must be presented within the relevant three-month time limit, even if a grievance has been submitted, to prevent the claim against the employee from being time-barred.




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