Employers’ Law quiz 2006 answers

If you have been stumped by the Employers’ Law annual quiz for 2006, here are the answers.

1) c – Gareth Judd claims he suffered a prolapsed disc caused by stooping over his desk at Barclays Bank’s Sunderland call centre (despite later spending four days inside a Ford Focus car during a radio station contest).

2) b – Sue Storer claimed that her requests for a new chair were repeatedly ignored. She told the employment tribunal that her two joint deputy heads, who were both men, were given new ‘executive’ chairs without having to ask.

In contrast, she had to endure a chair that made embarrassing noises and continually had to apologise to pupils, parents and other teachers for this. She said: “It was very embarrassing to sit on. I asked for a chair that didn’t give me a dead leg or make these very embarrassing farting sounds. It was a regular joke that my chair would make these farting sounds and I regularly had to apologise that it wasn’t me, it was my chair.”

The employment tribunal ruled that Storer could have arranged for the purchase of a replacement chair herself, and dismissed her £1m claim for constructive dismissal and sex discrimination.

3) a – Ministers of religion have always been regarded by the English courts as appointed to a holy office, and not as employees of a church. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has now decided that ministers may claim unfair dismissal against churches. The other employees listed (share fishermen, police and members of the Armed Forces) do not have a right to claim unfair dismissal under English law.

4) c – Mr Johal brought numerous claims against his employer, which were dealt with during a six-day hearing. Johal was represented by a Mr Parker.

Associated Transport Services contended that Johal had acted vexatiously and unreasonably in commencing and then continuing with the proceedings, and had lied and repeatedly changed his evidence during the proceedings. It sought a wasted costs order.

The tribunal concluded that the claims were misconceived and had been brought and conducted unreasonably. Johal’s behaviour “in telling flagrant untruths and maintaining them in the face of incontrovertible documentary evidence” led the tribunal to award full costs (in excess of £10,000) against him. As a large proportion of the costs had been wasted as a result of Parker’s misguided advice and unreasonable conduct, the tribunal held Parker jointly responsible for costs.

5) d – The EAT ruled that it was not acceptable to insist that only male trainees must be chaperoned when intimate procedures are carried out on female patients. Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “The EAT was right to find that it was not acceptable to have a chaperoning policy based on lazy stereotyping about the risks to patients and assumptions that all men are sexual predators.”

6) b – David Portman was sacked by Royal Mail for taking too many sick days after a series of accidents and illness. Prior to the death of his dog, Brandy, Portman broke a metatarsal bone in his foot while at work, had a car crash and started to suffer from asthma while on his post round.

Portman, who lives in South Yorkshire, said: “Brandy had been with me since I was 11. I was very distressed when I found her dead. I took the rest of the week off because I was so distraught.” The tribunal ruled that most of Portman’s absence was from genuine injuries that were sustained at work.

7) d – In a well-publicised case, Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker at Heathrow, lost her internal appeal. Eweida commented: “I am fairly disappointed, but I’m looking forward to the next stage because the cross is important and the truth will be revealed.”

8) cAishah Azmi lost her claims of direct and indirect religious discrimination, but was awarded £1,100 for “injury to her feelings” (she did not bring a claim for sex discrimination).

An employment tribunal ruled that she had been victimised through the environment created as a result of her stance. The tribunal awarded her £1,000 for injured feelings, with an extra 10% because statutory grievance procedures had not been complied with. It found she had not been directly or indirectly discriminated against on religious grounds or treated detrimentally because she was bringing a claim.

9) aMiss Green was awarded more than £800,000 in damages by the High Court. She had been targeted by four women colleagues and told that she smelled, had raspberries blown at her, and was ignored by them in her office. Mr Justice Owen agreed she had been subjected to a “relentless campaign… designed to cause her distress”.

Devised by Rebecca Peedell, lawyer with City law firm Macfarlanes

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